As the situation continues to change in the Middle East, Fort Hood’s 13th Sustainment Command adjusts its Kuwait-based operations to meet the fluctuating logistics demands of the environment.
Since December, about 180 soldiers of the logistics unit’s headquarters have overseen the sustainment operations of U.S. Central Command — an 18-country region including Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Kuwait, where the unit is headquartered at Camp Arifjan.
Brig. Gen. Rodney Fogg, commander of the 13th, said his headquarters is in charge of an organization with more than 9,000 soldiers, civilians and contractors spread across the region. It’s the “center of gravity” for the region’s sustainment operations.
“If you watch the news and read the newspaper, you realize the world is very turbulent. This part of the world in particular has a lot of things going on,” Fogg said, speaking to the Herald over the phone Saturday.
“We battle track all the levels of logistics and commodities,” he continued. “We support all the human resources requirements, finance requirements for every soldier in the theater so we execute orders and give guidance and direction and are openly responsible for the sustainment of all those forces.”
Something unique about this mission is reducing one theater of operation, while another is ramped up, he said.
Equipment and personnel have flowed into Iraq since last summer. The president approved 3,100 troops to train and advise the Iraqi military. Reports last week show they are preparing a more than 20,000 strong Iraqi-led force to fight the Islamic State in April in an attempt to take back the strategic city of Mosul.
“We have a logistics advise and assist team in Iraq and they get to work directly with the Iraqi army,” Fogg said. “They are logistics experts and therefore working with the logistics arm of the Iraqi army ... to get equipment to the right place at the right time to support operations.”
With many senior leaders within his command, Fogg said many of these soldiers have contributed years of their lives to a stable Iraq and have a vested interest in seeing it succeed.
“There’s areas of growth and areas that are not as far along as we would like. We assess where we need to advise and assist with input, and look at providing them advice in areas where need additional help,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Afghanistan combat mission ended in December and the drawdown of equipment and troops there continues.
“In our business, there are very few opportunities where you doing two major operations moving in two different directions at the same time,” Fogg said.
The restriction of “boots on the ground” in Iraq creates challenges, he said, as does anticipating the future needs of the “immature” theater of operations.
“We’re busy trying to make sure we know what our supported units are doing and to anticipate their requirements and make sure to have it filled and available before they need it,” Fogg said. “That takes up a lot of effort and a lot of planning.”
Over in Jordan, the 13th also is helping with another growing mission — providing equipment to the moderate Syrian opposition forces.
Despite the long hours and the continual and shifting demand for sustainment, Fogg said the unit’s soldiers are encouraged to take time and touch base with their families back home, as well as participate in some morale boosting events.
On Sunday, as Central Texas plays host to the Army Marathon, a group of 13th Sustainment soldiers will run a shadow marathon. Support from back home, also helps uplift spirits, he added.
“I extend my appreciate for the entire community back there and in particular for the family members who sacrifice so much while we’re deployed,” Fogg said. “They’re the ones that ensure we’re able to succeed and concentrate on our mission.”