As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, one constant is the 101st Airborne Division and its continuous effort to answer the nation’s call.
Lifeliners of the 101st Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade, 101st Abn. Div. (Air Assault), are currently deployed all over the globe.
“Not only do we have Soldiers supporting relief efforts on the East Coast, but we also have Soldiers deployed all over the world from Iraq to Europe,” said Col. Stephanie Barton, commander of 101st Abn. Div. Sust. Bde. “For example, our 101st Human Resources Company, who currently is deployed to Europe in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, processed more than 15,000 pounds of mail just last week, which was vital in mail delivery to Soldiers, Department of Defense civilians and contractors in Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.”
Proper sustainment allows the 101st Abn. Div. to get equipment ready faster, keep it viable longer and be more cost-efficient. It plays a large role in the division’s overall readiness rate.
“With the current measures in place [or emplaced] to help slow the spread of COVID-19, we have been very creative to keep our unit readiness up above standard to ensure our units are supplied with the parts and equipment needed to effectively complete their jobs,” said Maj. Sitara Buckner, the executive officer assigned to 101st Abn. Div. Sust. Bde. “To cut down on foot traffic in motor pools, work areas and our sustainment activity centers we have developed and implemented what is similar to a swing shift type of workday.”
Soldiers – less than 10 at a time – are required to come in each day and conduct vehicle or weapon maintenance on their assigned equipment, Buckner said.
“Customers are required to pick up parts and supplies daily during approved timeslots, and dining facilities are carry out only for those Soldiers who are required to eat there,” Buckner added.
Additionally units are continuing daily physical training, Barton said.
“The Army teaches us to hunt the good stuff when facing challenges – and with that being said – having to scale back on numbers of Soldiers conducting physical training in one location at a time has allowed Command Sgt. Maj. [Kevin] Campbell and me more time to interact with Soldiers daily,” she said. “We are able to get out [of our] office more to talk, laugh, mentor and workout with all Soldiers from all our different companies.”
The Soldiers are logistics experts and have multiple capabilities, including transportation, contract support and communication assets. The brigade also includes multifunctional logisticians, who can adapt to a wide variety of missions.
“We support all the units throughout the 101st Airborne Division and Fort Campbell,” Buckner said.
If a unit departs or returns to Fort Campbell it is more than likely the 101st Abn. Div. Sust. Bde. had a part in it, Buckner said.
“We have a lot of pride in our career field,” Buckner said. “We look at it like this – the Army cannot go rolling along if it doesn’t have wheels, fuel, beans or bullets, and we provide that.”
As the Lifeliners continue to prepare for their next rendezvous with destiny, just like their combat arms peers, logistics commanders will need to plan and execute realistic training to prepare their force.
“We currently have units in my formation who are scheduled to deploy in the upcoming months,” Barton said. “As their commander, I must ensure they are ready to go forward and accomplish their assigned mission.
Lifeliner leaders understand the importance of getting Soldiers to the range to qualify with their assigned weapons. Sustainers also must conduct field operations to validate mission command capabilities, and they must ensure their Soldiers are medically and physically ready to deploy on time, she said.
“The Soldiers have made it a joy, during my time here as their commander,” Barton said. “They are always ready to assume any and all missions at a moment’s notice and execute that mission with a can-do attitude. There’s nothing they cannot accomplish, and I’m proud to be a part of that.”