Medical Logistics conference held Nov. 3-5 at JBB

Story and photo by Sgt. John Stimac
139th MPAD
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — A medical logistician’s conference was held Nov.3 through Nov. 5 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq with representatives coming from many Contingency operating locations across Iraq.

Col. Gerard P. Curran, commander of Task Force 118th Medical Battalion, said the battalion consists of 13 sub commands in 30 different locations throughout Iraq.

“We are responsible for the logistics, maintenance, and Class VIII ‘medical’ supplies,” said Curran.

Curran, a Madison, Conn., native, said this is his second deployment to Iraq and many of the same Soldiers deployed with him this time as well.

“We have a lot of continuity in the unit because of this,” said Curran.

Curran said this conference gives the logisticians a chance to talk to the other members of their community.

“It allows us to get to know each other in order to allow us to coordinate this very daunting mission,” said Curran. “Because we are spread out all over, it allows us to build teamwork throughout our medical community.”

Curran said people present different aspects of each other’s job to get a better appreciation of what they do.

Col. Gust W. Pagonis, support operations officer with the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), the keynote speaker at the medical logistics conference spoke with the representatives Nov. 3 to let them know the 13th SC(E) is here to help in any way possible.

“Ask us for help,” said Pagonis. “We have the ability and resources to help sort through equipment and supplies for everybody.”

Pagonis, a Pittsburgh native, said logisticians need to identify what each unit has excess of first and foremost.

“The excess items first go to any units that may need the supplies throughout Iraq, then Afghanistan, then to other U.S. agencies,” said Pagonis.

“At that point the agencies determine if it is cost effective to bring back to the U.S, if not a statement will be given to the units to dispose of the excess items.”

Pagonis said this process can take anywhere from 14 to 28 days.

“Now is the time to start getting rid of excess items, if we wait until May this process isn’t going to be pretty” said Pagonis. “This will ensure that the items we do not need get back in the system to be used in future endeavors.”

Another topic that was discussed was the distribution of the H1N1 flu vaccine.

Lt. Col Ronald S. Foley, theater pharmacy consultant for United States Forces-Iraq, Task Force 1 Medical Battalion, Baghdad, Iraq said 1.35 million doses were issued to Department of Defense personnel.

Foley said this vaccination is mandatory for all DOD personnel and should expect to receive it one to three weeks from Nov. 5.

“The vaccines will be flown into Joint Base Balad and Baghdad first due to the fact those are ‘theater SSA’s,’ said Foley. “The outlying COL’s may get the vaccine closer to three weeks but that depends on the location or remoteness of the COL and the weather is also an important factor.”

Curran talked about the upcoming challenges that the medical team will face in the coming months.

“We are facing an operation that we have never done before,” said Curran. “The U.S. has not done a logistical drawdown like this since Vietnam. We are reducing the medical footprint based on the intelligence of predominately people in this room.”

Pagonis said the challenge is that as long as there are Soldiers still in Iraq, there needs to be a medical facility up and running.

He  said as long as the logistics drawdown is well planned , it will work.

“What we are doing right now will affect our Army 10 to 20 years from now,” said Pagonis “This is a big mission and we have a lot of work cut out for us, but we can do it.”

In a speech to the members at the conference, Curran said he needs the help of everyone present to finish the mission.

“Medical logisticians are the foundation of the team and I couldn’t be a doctor or do my job without you,” said Curran.


news photo
Col. Gust W. Pagonis, support operations officer for the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) speaks at the medical logistics conference Nov 3. at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. Pagonis, a Pittsburgh native was offering support and advise to the members of the conference.

news photo
Staff Sgt Chukwuemeka Echeozo, noncommsioned officer in charge of the Class VIII receiving section, 8th Medical Logistics Company and Dallas native briefs the medical logistics conference members on their mission at the medical logistics warehouse Nov. 4 at Joint Base Balad ,Iraq.