The 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Infantry Division cased its colors during a June 8 ceremony at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, when they transferred operations to the 101st Sustainment Brigade from Fort Campbell, Ky.
"The 'Durable' Brigade was challenged with providing the bridge between the tactical warfighter and operational aspect of logistics to support more than 100,000 Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Sailors who operate out of Regional Command's east, north and capital," said Col. Brian Tempest, commander, 1st Sust. Bde.
"The brigade enabled the three RC's through retrograde operations, allowing them to stay on base closure timelines to meet the withdrawal of forces," added Command Sgt. Maj. Virgil McCloud, senior enlisted adviser, 1st Sust. Bde. "Sustainment brigades are vital to ensuring every warfighter has what they need in order to execute their retrograde and rebasing plans."
The Durable Brigade trained in preparation for its deployment during the Unified Endeavor exercise in January 2012 at Fort Knox, Ky., where they interacted with the 1st Inf. Div., which was scheduled to take over RC-East. Additionally, the unit integrated into the 311th Expeditionary Support Command staff to understand the relationship with a RC and the ESC that would become the unit's higher headquarters upon deployment.
The brigade directly supported the division and its operations during the Big Red One's deployment to RC-East.
Tempest, a 24-year veteran from Indiana, began the unit's deployment with the expectation Durable Soldiers would be well trained, disciplined logisticians committed to enabling the warfighter and retrograde operations.
The unit, which deployed with its organic Special Troops Battalion, assumed control of four combat sustainment support battalions throughout the nine-month tour.
"We were challenged with 32 transfer of authorities and the increased velocity required," McCloud said.
"In essence, we lived the first 30 days of a deployment," Tempest said. "Every 30 days, we had to instill standards, habits and discipline into the unit to ensure they became competent members of the Durable Brigade. From the newest private to myself, we all brought something to this fight."
Leaders of the unit ensured Soldiers remained mission focused throughout the deployment by implementing McCloud's "31-day" philosophy.
"We took a 31-day mindset because at day 30, we were starting to figure it, and at 31 days, we were starting to make things better," McCloud said.
The unit developed a surge convoy escort team concept, which shortened the number of days convoys were out on the road, while increasing the number of loads each mission was able to haul. The unit traversed some of the most challenging terrain and roads throughout Afghanistan's north, east and capital regions, while transporting 2,900 sustainment loads and 5,300 retrograde loads.
The unit also oversaw operations for all classes of supply, ensuring U.S. and coalition forces were supplied via ground and air, with more than $1.3 billion of food, 81 million gallons of fuel and 10.5 million rounds of ammunition.
"We demonstrated our ability to ensure each RC was unhindered in their capacity to complete their mission, without a shortfall of logistical support, while increasing retrograde velocity," Tempest said.
During the unit's transition, Tempest emphasized to his troops the importance of ensuring the new unit taking over had everything it needed.
"It's about providing the new unit with everything they need to support the units outside the wire; the units who fell under us during the past nine months and will remain here when we leave," he said. "Our Soldiers proved themselves to be truly professional, competent logistic operators capable of supporting the warfighter. I couldn't be more proud. The chapter has been written, and the legacy of this 1st Sust. Bde. is now part of our unit's history."