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1st COSCOM transforms into 1st TSC

By Spc. Jerome Bishop

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (Army News Service, April 19, 2006) – After nearly 34 years of logistical support to the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, the 1st Corps Support Command furled its colors during the 1st COSCOM Inactivation Ceremony April 18, marking the end of an era and the birth of a new one.

Brig. Gen. Kevin A. Leonard, 1st COSCOM commanding general, and Command Sgt. Maj. Luis Lopez, 1st COSCOM command sergeant major, were joined by XVIII Airborne Corps Commander Lt. Gen. John R. Vines for the retirement of 1st COSCOM’s colors.

"The men and women of the 1st COSCOM have performed bravely. The 1st COSCOM has support brilliantly the policies of our nation, the strategies and operations that our military has been tasked to support," Vines said before retiring the colors.

Moments after the colors were furled, Lt. Gen. Steven Whitcomb, Third U.S. Army and U.S. Army Central Command commander, joined Leonard and Lopez in unfurling colors never before seen during the activation of the 1st Sustainment Command (Theater).

A symbol of transformation

The 1st TSC is the first theater sustainment command to exist in the active-duty Army, said Col. Ferdinand Samonte, 1st TSC chief operations officer.

"There's no manual or doctrine on being a theater sustainment command. They will be at the forefront of Army change," he said.

As logisticians of the 1st TSC, the former 1st COSCOM Soldiers will no longer support the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg as they've done since June 1972.

"Our mission will be the logistics for all of the [U.S. Army Central Command theater of operations]," said Samonte. "Our responsibility will begin in the Horn of Africa all the way to Afghanistan."

The CENTCOM Theater, which falls under the control of the Third Army from Fort McPherson, Ga., includes troops stationed in Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Israel and other Middle Eastern nations.

"We're going from several thousand Soldiers down to about 400," Samonte said, explaining that while deployed, 1st TSC Soldiers will not conduct logistical operations as they did with the 1st COSCOM.

Their primary mission, he said, will be to supervise, observe and contribute knowledge to other logistic units deploying to the CENTCOM Theater of operations. The 1st TSC will also provide leadership to the 507th Corps Support Group as it supports the XVIII Airborne Corps until the 507th becomes an independent corps asset in October.

A bittersweet farewell for veterans

Command Sgt. Maj. (ret.) James Washington, command sergeant major of the 507th CSG from 1992 through 1997, said he was sad to see the 1st COSCOM go away.

"I hate to see them leave," said Washington," but it's time for change due to the war situation and they're going to support the Middle East."

Other 1st COSCOM veterans attended the ceremony to witness the transformation, and shared the same bittersweet emotions.

"[The 1st COSCOM] always got the job done. I enjoyed being a part of that. "I hate to see them go, but I want to see the transformation," said Chief Warrant Officer (ret.) Billy Flanagan, a former maintenance officer from the 189th Corps Support Battalion who served with the 1st COSCOM at the end of World War II and the Korean War.

The most obvious change to 1st TSC Soldiers will be that the former 1st COSCOM's airborne status will not follow the 1st TSC after the transformation.

"It's emotional because the [Soldiers] are switching from the maroon beret to the black beret," said Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph R. Allen, XVIII Airborne Corps and previous 1st COSCOM command sergeant major.

"Today, as we write the last few sentences in the final chapter of the history of the 1st COSCOM, we'll hear the last shout of the old, and the cry of the new," Leonard said during the ceremony. "It is fitting that as the 1st COSCOM takes its last bow here at Fort Bragg – it breathes life into the 1st [TSC] of the Third Army and Southeast Asia."

(Editor’s note: Spc. Jerome Bishop writes for the 1st Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs Office.)

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