COSCOM acts as Logistical spearhead for LTF Lonestar
Story by Pvt. Crystal D. Eldridge
13th COSCOM Public Affairs Office
Soldiers of the 13th Corps Support Command returned from New Orleans this week after nearly a month long deployment as part of Logistical Task Force Lonestar.
LTF Lonestar was a specialized task force built around the COSCOM's Special Troops Battalion to support a joint service effort for hurricane relief after the gulf coast was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in late August.
Initially, the LTF Lonestar was under the 82nd Airborne Division as part of Joint Task Force Katrina. Later, LTF Lonestar returned to the COSCOM with two Army Reserve transportation companies as a subordinate element of the JTF- Katrina, Joint Logistics Command. Lonestar's overall mission was to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency and JTF-Katrina in their efforts to provide humanitarian support and relief to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and, later, Rita, not only in New Orleans but in the surrounding areas as well, said Maj. Ariel Rodriguez, executive officer of the STB.
The COSCOM provided Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company Special Troops Battalion, the 4th Corps Materiel Management Center, the 49th Movement Control Battalion, elements of the 263rd Maintenance Company and 1st Medical Brigade, said COSCOM deputy commander Col. Laurie F. Sattler. Many of these Soldiers were part of Lonestar.
As part of LTF Lonestar, these Soldiers provided logistical support for the distribution of water, food and fuel, according to HHC STB 1st Sgt. Arthur M. Benavides.
Rodriguez added that COSCOM Soldiers also provided transportation elements during the deployment.
Being a support unit, the COSCOM did not directly support missions most people are aware of, such as rescue missions and law enforcement. Rather, the COSCOM's mission was to sustain the troops who did fill those roles and enable them to continue to do their jobs, said Lt. Col. Kenneth S. Lundgren, COSCOM G-3.
The LTF's role in Louisiana was one the Soldiers routinely train for. The mission was the same in New Orleans as it is every day, said Rodriguez. Whether in combat or peace, COSCOM still repairs equipment and issues parts and supplies.
"We train 24-7," added Rodriguez.
COSCOM's mission is always the same, he continued. The mission is always logistics.
"[LTF Lonestar] was a great mission for Soldiers, especially specialist and below because they've never done it before," said Rodriguez. "It was a success due to the Soldiers' caring and ability to accomplish the mission with a minimum of direction [from the command]."
The Soldiers' caring was basically the mission, according to Benavides. Overall, the COSCOM's mission was to simply help fellow Americans, said Benavides. Many Soldiers who deployed to New Orleans seemed grateful to actually do something good for other Americans rather than always helping other nations.
"It makes me feel very good to watch daily how things get better and better; see people's gratifying faces. It helps a lot to be able to go and do something for our own people versus other countries as well," Benavides added.
"It was different [providing support out of garrison] but in our own land," Rodriguez explained. "It taught [Soldiers] how good they had it before seeing New Orleans. New Orleans will never be the same."
"A lot of people [believed] we owe something to our fellow countrymen. I believe that myself," added Lundgren.
Benavides summed up the COSCOM's mission: "[COSCOM's Soldiers deployed] to provide humanitarian relief to fellow Americans - I guess that's the best way to put it."
Lt. Col. Terence J. Hildner briefs Soldiers returning from New Orleans in support of Hurricane Katrina relief on Sunday. Photo by Pvt. Crystal D. Eldridge, 13th COSCOM Public Affairs Specialist
Family, friends and coworkers lined up to welcome Soldiers of the COSCOM as they returned home after nearly a month of support in New Orleans. Photo by Pvt. Crystal D. Eldridge, 13th COSCOM Public Affairs Specialist