FORT HOOD — Life for the 13th Sustainment Command is steadily returning to its normal ebb and flow after returning from its historic deployment to Afghanistan three months ago, said Brig. Gen. Clark W. LeMasters Jr., the unit’s commander.
Instead of serving in the traditional role of a sustainment headquarters — commanding subordinate units to provide supplies and support American forces — the command supported Deputy Command-Support Operations to advise and assist the Afghan National Security Forces on their own logistics systems to ensure they are ready to be self-sustaining by the end of 2014. During the 13th’s year in country, the directorate and its contractors trained more than 4,700 Afghan National Security Force members.
LeMasters sat down with the Herald to discuss the unique mission, as well as what the next few months have in store for the sustainment command and its subordinate units.
Having Afghan forces manage their own logistics is one of the most important things they can do to become self-sustainable, LeMasters said.
During the deployment, one of the elements of Lt. Gen. Daniel P. Bolger’s mission statement as the commander of NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, was not only for Afghans to be self-sustainable from a perspective of being able to recruit and train soldiers, but more importantly, sustaining soldiers, LeMasters said.
“They were able to do food on their own, but they needed the ability to fix their own trucks, to have a system of supply from the national down to the unit level,” LeMasters said. “It’s easy to do the training and recruiting; they could do that and they could fight the enemy. The hard part was maintaining the facilities and supplying them to be operable, and able to go into combat they’ve got to be able to supply themselves. They’ve got to be able to fix their trucks. They’ve got to be able to deliver fuel.”
LeMasters said one of the many things they were able accomplish was to create a 20-page field manual with some of the Afghan’s logistics doctrine, then translate it to Dari for the units to use to train leaders and noncommissioned officers.
U.S. Army Europe’s 16th Sustainment Brigade, out of Germany, is continuing this mission in Afghanistan and the 13th will help train the 55th Sustainment Brigade, an U.S. Army Reserve unit, “so they can get their head around how they’re going to do that mission in August when they go take it over.”
The 13th also will conduct some training of its own to get soldiers back into their specific specialties.
“We are trying to look at the right way to organize ourselves here on post with the resources we have while we’re still preparing ourselves for our next mission. We’re potentially going to deploy again ... to Kuwait in ’14 as a headquarters,” he said.
For more with Brig. Gen. Clark LeMasters, including the silver lining he sees in the budget cuts, read Wednesday’s Fort Hood Herald.