215th Brigade Support Battalion
215th Forward Support Battalion
The mission of the 215th Brigade Support Battalion, "Blacksmiths," is to, on order, deploy to a designated Contigency area of operation, prepare for and executes Combat Service Support operations while defending assigned areas. It would then, on order, redeploy and prepare for future operations.
Although 26 March 1971, officially marked the end of duties in Vietnam for the majority of the 1st Cavalry Division, President Nixon's program of "Vietnamization" required the continued presence of a strong US fighting force. To serve this function, the 2-5th Cavalry, 1-7th Cavalry, 2-8th Cavalry and 1-12th Cavalry, along with specialized support units as F/9th Cavalry, D/229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, and C/8th Engineer Battalion helped establish the 3rd Brigade (Separate), 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) headquarters at Bien Hoa. Its primary mission was to interdict enemy infiltration and supply routes.
On 1 April 1971, the 215th Composite Service Battalion (Support) was activated in the Republic of Vietnam assigned to the 3rd Brigade (Separate), 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), pursuant to General Order 7165. The Battalion consisted of 5 companies and a headquarters and headquarters detachment formed from elements previously assigned to the Division Support Command, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). The companies provided maintenance, medical, supply and transportation, administration, and aviation maintenance and supply (designated as an transportation company) and were staffed with personnel from the 27th Maintenance Battalion, 15th Medical Battalion, 15th Supply and Service Battalion, 15th Administrative Company, and the 15th Transportation Battalion respectively. The personnel for the Battalion's Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment came from the Headquarters, Headquarters, Support Command and Band of the Division Support Command, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile).
The 215th Composite Service Battalion demonstrated new concepts, efficiency and dedication of support to the 3rd Brigade through the use of personnel contact teams, brigade, aviation assets and aerial delivery techniques. The 215th participated in 4 campaigns, including Counter Offensive Phase VII, Consolidation I, Consolidation II, and Cease Fire. In addition to the support of the 3rd Brigade, the Medical Company also participated in a significant civil action program involving support missions to the civil population of Vietnam, as well as a drug abuse intervention program for US forces. As a result of the dedication and professionalism of the troopers assigned to the Battalion, the unit was awarded the Meritorious Unit Citation and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.
By 31 March 1972, only 96,000 US troops were involved in the Vietnam in combat operations. Less than 2 months later, the last of the 1st Cavalry Division, the 3rd Brigade (Special), including the 215th Composite Service Battalion, began to stand down in a phased withdrawal and returned to the United States, completing the Division recall on 26 June 1972, which had started on 5 May 1971. The 1st Cavalry Division had been the first US Army division to go to Vietnam and became the last to leave. On 27 June 1972, the 215th Composite Service Battalion was inactivated in the Republic of Vietnam.
On 16 December 1991, the 215th Composite Support Battalion was reactivated as the 215th Support Battalion (Forward) at Fort Hood, Texas. The mission of the 215th Forward Support Battalion was to provide logistical support to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team as part of the 1st Cavalry Division's Support Command (DISCOM). To this end the 215th Forward Support Battalion was organized with three companies. The Headquarters and A Company consisted of all battalion-level command and staff personnel, all battalion food service personnel, and a support operations section. Additionally, it was the supply and service company in the Battalion and provided petroleum supply, ration support and general supply support to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team. B Company was a maintenance company that conducted direct support repairs and services on equipment in the 3rd Brigade Combat Team. The company had the capability to repair tracked and wheeled equipment, engineer equipment, fire control equipment, and tank turrets. Additionally, the service and recovery section provided metal working support and vehicle recovery support. The company also maintained a repair parts warehouse. C Company was a medical company that had the mission of treating, holding and evacuating patients from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
Between January and February 1992, the Battalion participated in the Army Field Tests of the single channel Ground-Airborne System (SINCGARS). During this test the "Blacksmiths" established a high standard of excellence, achieving a 98.9 percent diagnosis rate for the tested radios. In December 1992, the Battalion went to the National Training Center to support the 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. The Blacksmith troopers set records for spare parts supply accountability and helped the 3rd Brigade achieve the highest turn-in operational readiness rate experienced in over 100 National Training Center rotations.
Within 20 days of returning from the National Training Center, the Battalion deployed a Logistic Task Force to Kuwait in support of Task Force 3-41st Infantry during Exercise Intrinsic Action, where the they provided the full spectrum of combat service support. In January 1993, the Battalion returned to Kuwait in support of Task Force 1-9th Cavalry during Exercise Iris Gold.
Throughout 1993, the 215th Forward Support Battalion participated in the Army's field testing of the M1A2 tank, helping to prove the viability of new diagnostic test sets for the hull and turret electronic components, as well as proving the suitability for the overall maintainability of the tank. In July 1993 and in October 1944, the 215th Forward Support Battalion again deployed to the National Training Center, at Fort Irwin, California in support of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team (not to be confused with the modular brigade combat team). In December 1995, upon returning from the National Training Center, the Battalion deployed logistic elements to Panama to provide the 8th Engineer Battalion with medical and maintenance support following the riots at the Cuban refugee camps.
By 2004 the 215th Forward Support Battalion had been reorganized to include 5 companies and a headquarters distribution company. The Battalion provided the "life blood" of the the 3d Brigade Combat Team: Food, fuel, maintenance, transportation and repair parts. The Headquarters Distribution Company (HDC) consisted of all battalion-level command and staff personnel. The HDC provided food service to the three base companies (HDC, D, and E Companies), battalion communications support, and a support operations section. Additionally it was the supply and service company in the Battalion, and provided petroleum supply, ration support, transportation, maintenance parts support, and general supply to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team. A Company (Forward Support) was a multifunctional unit that provided transportation, field maintenance, and all classes of supply for the 1-9th Cavalry. It executed the CSS plan in the maneuver area of Task Force 1-9th Cavalry. The B Company (Forward Support) was a multifunctional unit that provided transportation, field maintenance, and all classes of supply for the 2-7th Cavalry. It executed the CSS plan in the maneuver area of Task Force 2-7th Cavalry. C Company (Forward Support) was a multifunctional unit that provided transportation, field maintenance, and all classes of supply for the 3-8th Cavalry. It executed the CSS plan in the maneuver area of Task Force 3-8th Cavalry. D Company (Brigade Support) was a direct support maintenance company in support of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team. Its 1st and 2nd Base Platoons provided organizational and direct support maintenance support to the HDC, D, and E Companies of the 215th Forward Support Battalion; 3rd Brigade Reconnaissance Troop, and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Combat Team. The D Company provided base shop support to 3rd Brigade Combat Team in the Armament shop, ground support equipment, missile and ELM shops. The Base Support Company Engineer Support Platoon was a multifunctional unit that provided transportation, field maintenance, and all classes of supply for the 8th Engineer Battalion. E Company (Forward Medical Support), which C Company had been reflagged as during the reorganization, was a medical company that had the mission of treating, holding, and evacuating patients within the 3rd Brigade Combat Team. E Company was composed of organic medical platoons that provided triage, management of mass casualties, and advanced trama management. Some other areas of care given were initial recessitation and stabilization, and care for patients with combat and peacetime injuries. E Company could provide interventions for combat and operational stress disorders to include battle fatigue, and preparation of medical patients for further evacuations.
In March 2004 the Battalion deployed, conducted additional training in Kuwait, road marched to Iraq, and established operations in Baghdad. The soldiers were challenged daily by the environment, weather, and security conditions. Starting in June 2004 the Battalion began allowing Soldiers to take leave. Only about 60 percent of all Soldiers were allowed to take leave or participate in other Pass Programs such as the Fighter Management Program in Qatar or Freedom Rest. This was because the programs started after the first 90 days and ended before the last 90 days (a planning factor of one year). This left 6 months for the leave program. Only 10 percemt of the Battalion could be gone at any given time. The first priority was for soldiers who had a child being born or one that was born since the unit departed left Fort Hood, Texas. Second priority was to soldiers or spouses who were deployed to a hardship tour within 90 days of this deployment. Third, fourth and fifth priority was to everyone else.
While deployed, the Battalion continued to receive food, water, medical supplies, repair parts, and other supplies from 27th Main Support Battalion. Soldiers from the 27th Main Support Battalion arrived several times a week to make deliveries. They determined the requirements for each of the units that the 215th Forward Support Battalion was responsible for and separated the supplies down into piles when units show up for pickup. They had convoys going to Baghdad International Airport several times a week. There they picked up fuel in large quantities to provide fuel support to all the units within the 3rd Brigade Combat Team. The convoys looked ready for action with almost every vehicle had a large crew-served weapon on it. They were supported by the 3rd Brigade's Reconnaissance Troop, and normally havd aviation assets watch over travel. Elsewhere, the staff continued to provide internal support to the Battalion thru the S1 and S4 shops. S2/3 planned missions to meet the requirements determined by the support operations section and also provided daily intelligence updates. S6 was kept busy with setting up communications, computers, internet access, satellite systems and other high tech military gadgets.
Following its return from Iraq and as part of the US Army's transformation towards a modular force, the 215th Forward Support Battalion was inactivated on 15 July 2005, along with the 1st Cavalry Division Support Command (DISCOM). As part of the modular transformation assets previously held a division level, but habitually attached to brigades during operations were made organic to reorganized and redesignated brigade combat teams. The Battalion was reactivated later in 2005 as the 215th Brigade Support Battalion, the organic support battalion for the reorganized and redesignated 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
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