13th SC(E), Always On the Go

Story by: Sgt. Joel F. Gibson
Photo by: Spc. Fabian Ortega
13th SC(E) Public Affairs Office

FORT HOOD, TEXAS — When it comes to major deployments, the headlines of local newspapers often show entire divisions deploying en masse. At Fort Hood we’ve seen the 1st Cavalry Division and 4th Infantry Division depart in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and we are now welcoming III Corps, but we’ve never seen the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) deploy as a group…why not?

The 13th SC(E) deploys all the time, in groups ranging from a Movement Control Team from the 49th Transportation Battalion, to a brigade headquarters like the 1st Medical Brigade or 4th Sustainment Brigade.

The missions the 13th conducts are so unique and diverse, that they do not lend to the entire unit deploying as a group.  Instead, its specialized capabilities are packaged in the size necessary and sent anywhere the nation needs.

The 4th SB, 1st Medical Brigade and most recently joining the 13th ranks, the 15th SB, represent large portions of the Sustainment Command. When the headquarters of these large sections deploy, they generally deploy strictly as a headquarters.

Upon arrival, they command a variety of subordinate battalions, companies, detachments and teams—based on the mission requirements.  Most, if not all of the units they go to war with are from outside Fort Hood.  At times, the majority may be from the U.S. Army Reserve or National Guard.

When the 13th SC(E) HQ deployed in support of OIF 06-08, it had seven subordinate brigades. Only one, the 15th Sustainment Brigade, had any ties to the 13th Sustainment Command at Fort Hood.  Of those seven brigades, four were from the active component, two from the Army Reserve and one was from the Minnesota National Guard.

Just like the large unit headquarters of the SC(E), individual companies like the 53rd Quartermaster Company, and notably, the 96th Transportation Company deploy routinely in support of Operation Enduring and Iraqi Freedom as well.

Often referred to as the most deployed unit on Fort Hood, the 96th Transportation Company, 180th, is enjoying a rare respite—although it is already preparing for its sixth deployment.

“This period of reset for the 96th, is the first time they’ve had more than six months of reset since the Global War on Terror began,” said Lt. Col. Mark A. Paget, commanding officer of the 180th Transportation Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade.

Paget said the 180th is like a microcosm of the Command, with units of various sizes in every stage of deployment, redeployment and reset.

Much like the 565th Quartermaster Company during OIF 06-08, the 418th Transportation Company, 180th TB, is performing convoy escort missions in Iraq, showing the versatility of SC(E) units, said Paget.

“When I deploy with the battalion headquarters next year, every single company in the 180th will have deployed or redeployed since I arrived,” said Paget.

A Company is not the smallest unit the SC(E) will deploy on its own.

The 406th Trailer Transfer Detachment, a 20-Soldier unit in the 180th, redeployed in the summer of 2006 and is scheduled to deploy again in the summer of 2008.

Two platoons from the 502nd Human Resource Company deployed Jan. 26 to conduct postal operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan while their company headquarters deployed the week before to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Immediately after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the SC(E) deployed many units to support the Joint Logistics Command, Joint Task Force Katrina.

The 21st Combat Support Hospital took over medical operations for hospitals knocked out of commission by floodwaters.

Soon after, the 21st CSH deployed to Iraq to perform detainee healthcare at Camp Bucca and Abu Ghraib.

Movement Control Teams from the 49th MCB facilitated the flow of donated supplies in New Orleans, and then conducted a similar mission for the Sustainment Command with supply flow into, out of, and around Iraq during OIF 06-08.

While readers of local newspapers may never see the headline, “13th SC(E) bids farewell,” the odds are good that on any given week, friends and family members of some small part of the Sustainment Command are either saying farewell to, or welcoming their Soldiers home.


Spc. Hernandez hugs two children upon his return from Iraq
Spc. Robert Hernandez of Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 49th Movement Control Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) hugs and kisses his two children after returning from Iraq July 17.(U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Fabian Ortega)

Soldier inspects a bandage in Iraq
A Soldier of 1st Brigade, 34th Infantry Division, a National Guard brigade under the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), inspects an Iraqi girl's bandage during Operation Iraqi Freedom 06-08.(U.S. Army Photo Courtesy 13th SC(E) PAO)