419th Quartermaster Battalion [Water Supply]
The mission of the US Army Reserve's 419th Quartermaster Battalion is to purify, store, distribute and issue potable water and to support combat troops and the ground troops in the area of operation.
The battalion was activated on 20 September 1990 and mobilized at Fort Ord, California, for possible deployment to Saudi Arabia. The unit originally deployed with a strength of just a little bit over 500 with the attachments. And then since that time they were given additional attachments, eventually reaching over 620--and that includes a graves registration company out of Fort Lewis, [Washington]. Originally the battalion came into the Dhahran area and set up several sites to support the troops both around Dhahran and then out further to the west. The unit moved part of a company--the 316th--out along MSR [Main Supply Route] MERCEDES in late November 1990. And then the remainder of that company moved out to MERCEDES around the beginning of the second week of December 1990. They then moved the advance party up to KKMC [King Khalid Military City] the beginning of January 1991.
The reserve units typically had trained and had equipment known as ERLATORs. They are used basically for brackish-type water, not sea water. Whereas the reverse osmosis water purification unit [ROWPU] can be used both with brackish water as well as with salt water. The equipment is part of the Army's program for prepositioned stocks. These ROWPUs were purchased in the early 1980s years ago as a contingency item with the anticipation of providing support in an area of operation. When this battalion was activated the water purification detachments as well as the water purification companies had to be trained in operations of these. And that was done in a placed called Half Moon Bay which is outside of Dhahran. The Quartermaster School, along with some civilians out of AMC [Army Materiel Command], came over to conduct that training.
The 419th like all of the Army Reserve and National Guard battalion HHDs [Headquarters and Headquarters Detachments] didn't have units under their command and control on habitual relationships. This HHD had the organization that it had under it during Desert Storm -- the 79th Quartermaster Company is out of Ohio and the 316th Quartermaster Company out of San Diego. These are the two water purification companies. The detachments that they had in Desert Storm came from all over the United States. And for the most of the part none of the detachments had worked with the companies and none of the companies had worked with the battalion until they were put together here in theater.
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