Down from towers; back to fuelers
By: Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Conner
15th SB, Public Affairs
CAMP TAJI, Iraq — Troops from the Wisconsin National Guard transferred their base security mission during a March 15 ceremony here.
Soldiers of the 1157th Transportation Company, 15th Brigade Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade relinquished overall responsibilities for the base security task force to the 410th Quartermaster Company, 15th BTB. One of the first “WagonMaster” units to undertake the force protection mission in Oct. 2006, the new duties came as a change for troops trained as drivers and fuelers.
Lt. Col. Victoriano Garcia, commander, 15th BTB thanked the Soldiers for their hard work, dedication to the force protection mission and setting the standard for base security. A team from Multi-National Forces-Iraq rated the 1157th TC as the best during a recent force protection assessment visit.
“Adjustment from fuel to force protection back to fuel has been easy,” said Maj. Tim Skelton, 1157th TC commander. “It’s a strange feeling, but it’s good to be back doing [transportation]. It was a lot of fun doing the force protection mission.”
Skelton was something of a “ringer” for Lt. Col. Garcia when he formed the task force. The Oshkosh, Wis. native served as a base defense battle captain with the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2003.
In addition to climbing down from guard towers and back behind the wheels of their M1088 tractor trucks, the 1157th TC assumes new responsibilities under a new battalion. Now part of the 867th Corps Support Battalion, 15th SB, Skelton and his Soldiers will hit the roads of Iraq to push fuel to support surge operations in Multi-National Division-Baghdad.
“We’ve got a 100 percent increase to our operational capabilities,” said Maj. Kevin Garner, executive officer for the 867th CSB.
Before the transfer, the 867th CSB did not have the assets or equipment to deliver large amounts of “go-juice” outside the wire. While the 1157th provided internal fuel support to the 15th SB on Camp Taji, the 867th CSB turned to a sister battalion in Baghdad for help with external fuel supply missions.
As the influx of combat forces to MND-B continues, Garner sees the addition of the Wisconsin troops as a critical component to mission success. The 1157th’s TC fleet of 5000-gallon fuel tankers allows for rapid transport and sustainment to more than 25,000 troops conducting security operations.
“We’ve maintained proficiency with our [fuel transport] job skills while doing our force protection mission,” said Skelton, “In case something like this happened.”
Soldiers of the 1157th TC, 15th BTB, 15th SB stand in formation during a Mar 15 transfer of authority ceremony. The Oshkosh, Wis. based National Guard unit, trained for fuel transportation and operations, had been performing base security missions on Camp Taji. The company belongs now to the 867th CSB, 15th SB, where they find themselves back behind the wheels of their M1088 fuel transport trucks, to support coalition forces within MND-B. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Conner, 15th SB, PAO)