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'Lifeline' battalion prepares to transition three sustainment hubs in Iraq

September 7, 2011

By 1st Lt. John Chukayne, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division

BAGHDAD, Sept. 7, 2011 -- In accordance with agreements between the Government of Iraq and United States Forces - Iraq, elements of Company A "Atlas," 299th "Lifeline" Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division - Center are preparing to transition responsibility of, or close down, the Victory Base Complex, or VBC, Fuel Farm, Supply Support Activity, and Ammunition Supply Point, or ASP.

All three hubs currently provide sustainment to forces throughout the Baghdad area of operations.

The VBC Fuel Farm began the process of identifying fuel bladders that can be removed, as well as collecting and testing soil samples around the farm. These tests are critical in identifying potential environmental hazards that need remediation, usually meaning soil excavation and transportation to a regulated landfill.

"Ensuring the fuel farm is free from environmental hazards is a priority among battalion and company leadership as we prepare to make a responsible exit from this theater," said 1st Lt. Treone Frink, with Company A, 299th BSB.

The fuel farm still maintains the ability to store petroleum, but that number will continue to dwindle as the demand for it in the Baghdad area of operations decreases.

"We are currently preparing the fuel farm for our relief in place and transfer of authority [later this year]," explained Frink. "Once the [relief] unit is on ground, our Soldiers will ensure that its Soldiers are properly trained on all the equipment at the fuel farm."

Since November, the Lifeline Battalion has supported the issue and turn-in of approximately 5.2 million rounds of ammunition -- more than 500,000 tons -- and processed more than 1,500 shipping directives and hundreds of receipts at the ASP.

Despite the steady workload, the hub's operational footprint has shrunk.

"In this environment, the one commodity that no Soldier wants to be without is ammunition," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Javier Gonzalez, with Company A, 299th BSB. "That need has made the unit's ability to prepare for the drawdown without degrading the mission a challenge, but one we are ready to meet."

Part of the SSA's drawdown efforts include container management. This is done through an Authorized Stockage List, or ASL, review process, which aims to reduce the number of containers on the base.

"Reducing the ASL is essential for a smooth and timely exit from Iraq," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shawn Jackson, with Company A, 299th BSB. "With the reduction in the ASL, we can effectively close down with less than 30 days' notice."

The process of drawing down the SSA's size while still providing adequate supply support is a tough, but necessary, job.

"Every ASL review that we've conducted on a quarterly basis since assuming responsibility has been in an effort to reduce the ASL size and prepare for base closure," Jackson said. "For every decision that has been made for the SSA drawdown, we have taken in to account our customers so that we can continue to provide superior supply support to over 30,000 service members and civilians in the Baghdad area of operations."

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