Lifeliners support COVID-19 relief missions, execute realistic training

Private First Class Gideon Smith, an automated logistical specialist assigned to 227th Composite Supply Company, 101st Division Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), straps down a cargo box, Oct. 23, 2020 before transportation at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. The Lifeliners will manage tactical and operational-level sustainment for joint interagency and multinational forces within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to enable unified land operations in support of Operation Spartan Shield.

In 2020, Soldiers of 101st Division Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) sustained the fight through realistic training opportunities, providing support assistance relief and conducting sustainment operations around the world amid the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On January 31, 2020, Lt. Col. Eric Anderson uncased the 129th Division Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st DSB colors to signify the return of their command team and completion of various overseas missions.

“The uncasing ceremony isn’t about me or the team that came back,” said Lt. Col. Eric Anderson, 129th DSSB commander, as he spoke to Family and friends in the audience. “It’s important to thank the leadership that spent the nine months back here running the show while we were gone.”

During April and May, 101st DSB conducted sustainment support and contract support during the COVID-19 mission in New York City, New York; Atlantic City, New Jersey; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Boston, Massachusetts; at the height of the pandemic to support the health care workers deployed to the country’s hotspots helping local hospitals and American citizens.

“I am incredibly proud of our sustainment Soldiers from the Lifeliner brigade, and I know they are going to have a big impact to our nation’s response against COVID-19,” said Maj. Gen. Brian Winski, commanding general, 101st Airborne Division and Fort Campbell. “Sustainment is absolutely critical to ensure front line medical personnel are well supplied and able to continue their vital work.”

Typically, a commander has a grace period before implementing his or her Soldier training plan.

However, within minutes of assuming command of her battalion June 22, Lt. Col. Shelia Day’s Soldiers of 129th DSSB, were already securing and reinforcing their fighting positions at Training Area 28 for a validation exercise.

“As we bid farewell to an outstanding battalion commander we welcome another one who is eager and excited to take the colors and run with them,” said Col. Stephanie Barton, commander, 101st DSB, during the change of command ceremony. “Lt. Col. Shelia Day comes out of the garden with a great reputation. I believe and have always said you don’t stumble into command at any level and you don’t stumble into a tight knit Family, specifically the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). You were selected and are here for a reason. You deserve it, you earned it, and now it’s yours, so make it yours.”

The Soldiers of 129th DSSB had not executed a field training exercise of this magnitude in more than six months because of deployments and COVID-19. However, with the battalion together once again, Soldiers were healthy, physically fit, and ready to resume their regular training and maintaining readiness.

More than 240 Soldiers performed tactical exercises that included movement drills, base defense and reaction to contact, all while performing their military occupational specialty-specific duties.

In June and July, Soldiers from 129th DSSB conducted support operations for the division during the summer Joint Readiness Training Center rotations at Fort Polk, Louisiana.

Barton relinquished command of the 101st DSB to Col. Peter Gilbert, July 24 during a change of command ceremony at the division parade field.

In October, the 101st DSB departed Fort Campbell for a nine-month deployment to Kuwait. The Lifeliners assumed authority of the Operation Spartan Shield logistics mission managing tactical and operational-level sustainment for joint interagency and multinational forces within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to enable unified land operations.

“Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Campbell and I are extremely humbled to serve alongside these incredible men and women in such a storied division. Our Division Sustainment Brigade warriors are highly trained, disciplined and fit,” said Gilbert, 101st DSB commander.

“Together we stand ready to fight and win anywhere, anytime, and under any conditions,” he said. “Soldiers at every echelon are committed to supporting this important mission, and look forward to working alongside our regional security partners to reinforce conditions for long-term stability as the Middle East recalibrates.”