Support battalion earns Army-level recognition
Brig. Gen. Gwen Bingham, U.S. Army Quartermaster General commandant, U.S. Army Quartermaster School, left, presents Lt. Col. Eric Schwartz, commander, 299th BSB, the 2012 Distinguished Unit of the Quartermaster Regiment certificate June 14 at Fort Lee, Va. COURTESY PHOTO
Story by: Mollie Miller
1ST INF. DIV. PUBLIC AFFAIRS
A steadfast dedication to their mission at home and abroad earned one 1st Infantry Division unit an Army-level award for excellence.
The 299th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team was named a 2012 Distinguished Unit of the Quartermaster Regiment earlier this year and leaders from the "Lifeline" Battalion traveled to Fort Lee, Va., June 14 to accept the award.
"This award is a reflection of our whole team and their sustained superior performance during the last 18 months," said 299th BSB Commander Lt. Col. Eric Schwartz. "They made miracles happen every day."
Established in 1993, the Distinguished Unit of the Regiment Program recognizes units that have "significantly contributed to the proud heritage of the Army and the Quartermaster Corps." During the past 18 months, the Soldiers of the 299th BSB made their mark in the Army's history books as they helped facilitate the drawdown of forces in Iraq, accomplishing on their own missions once done by substantially larger units.
"What we fell in on in the Baghdad province specifically was a mission that used to belong to three brigades but now just belonged to us," said Maj. Joe Dzvonik, 299th BSB support operations officer. "We had to develop a structure to support almost 30,000 Soldiers, government contractors and Department of State civilians on our own."
The system the Lifeline team developed revolved around the missions of supporting the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, assisting with the Iraqi drawdown, and training their Iraqi counterparts on maintenance, medical and transportation tasks. These missions found the 299th BSB Soldiers managing a bulk fuel farm, an ammunition supply point, a local medical facility and a supply support activity as well as running supply convoys to outlying forward operating bases.
"Our job was to make all these missions happen simultaneously and successfully," said Capt. Jacque Ralston, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 299th BSB. "It took a lot of planning and a lot of Soldiers working very hard."
Dzvonik said the drawdown of forces and equipment in Iraq was a delicate balancing act that required constant thought and adjustment.
"I think it is pretty easy to keep a logistics system rolling as long as you have the fire hose going full power," he said. "What we had to do, though, was figure out how to fine tune that stream without missing anyone; all those knobs that had been wide open for six or seven years, we had to figure out which ones to turn and when to turn them to ensure everyone still got what they needed.
"We knew what had to be done so we did what we had to do to get to mission complete," Dzvonik added.
The 299th BSB returned to Fort Riley in October 2011 knowing they had played a huge part in one of the largest draw downs of forces in the history of the Army. Now home, the Lifeline team is busy preparing for whatever the future might hold for the support battalion.
"We are breaking new ground," Schwartz said. "No one is telling us what our next mission is – we are preparing for everything."