Alaskan battalion experiences extreme winter conditions to support Soldiers

February 17, 2012

By Jon Connor, Army Sustainment Command Public Affairs

ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- The Army Field Support Battalion-Alaska (Provisional) is the "Arctic Face to the Field."

The battalion, part of the 404th Army Field Support Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., is one of seven Army Sustainment Command brigades. ASC falls under the Army Materiel Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala.

The mission of the AFSBn-Alaska (P) is supporting Soldiers regarding transformation and modularization, and Army Force Generation. This support includes Reset for both field and sustainment, Left Behind Equipment, New Equipment Fielding, Pre-Deployment Training Equipment, the Army Support Activity, and the Directorate of Logistics -- maintenance, sustainment, and supply operations.

Currently, all Army Directorates of Logistics are under operational control to ASC. The plan is for the DOLs to come under administrative control Oct. 1. This will allow ASC to take complete responsibility of all DOL missions to achieve centralized management of logistics functions to garrison and field units.

All this while enduring long Alaskan winters with heavy snowfall, strong winds, and temperatures falling to minus 50 at times. For example, as the temperature drops, the electrical current decreases. At minus 40, the power available is nearly gone.

The AFSBn-Alaska (P) experienced a change in leadership Feb. 10 as newly promoted Lt. Col. Andrew DeKever took over as battalion commander from Lt. Col. Lt. Col. Nathaniel Rivers, who retired after nearly 31 years of Army service. DeKever was promoted the day before in a separate ceremony hosted by Col. Leafaina Yahn, commander, 404th Army Field Support Brigade.

Yahn lauded Rivers by saying he "personified excellence in your command."

And she praised DeKever for being selected as the next commander, not by seniority, "but by a proven record of excellence."

"I am honored to be a part of this brigade," said DeKever, a recent graduate of the Command and General Staff College's Intermediate Level Education at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. "I wish you (Rivers) a long and happy retirement."

During Rivers' farewell remarks, he said the change of authority/retirement ceremony was a "double-edge sword" depending on one's perspective.

Interestingly, prior to enlisting in the Army in 1982, Rivers played three years with the NFL's New York Giants. While being part of an NFL team was rewarding, Rivers said his Army career allowed him to perform on the "first team" every day.

Yahn presented Rivers the Legion of Merit, Certificate of Retirement signed by the Army chief of staff, Letter of Appreciation signed by the commander in chief, the national colors, and a retirement lapel pin.

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