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‘Climbing to Glory’— Logistics Task Force 548 in Iraq

The 548th Corps Support Battalion, a unit of the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) from Fort Drum, New York, was task-organized in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 05–07 as Logistics Task Force (LTF) 548. The battalion deployed in September 2005 and was assigned to the 40th Corps Support Group, 3d Corps Support Command, at Logistics Support Area Anaconda, located in Balad, Iraq.

The battalion’s mission was to support Multi-National Corps-Iraq by operating the major distribution activities at Logistics Support Area Anaconda, including the corps storage area, joint distribution center, central receiving and shipping point, two supply support activities, and the corps forward redistribution point. LTF 548 also provided responsive vehicle recovery, maintenance, water supply, and cargo-handling support through forward-echeloned teams operating at up to 15 forward operating bases throughout Iraq.

LTF 548 served as the command and control element for 11 units, including a direct support maintenance company, a general support supply company, a cargo transfer company, a water supply company, a water purification detachment, a field artillery battery, an ordnance company, a headquarters detachment, an aerial delivery platoon, and a mortuary affairs team. However, providing a full spectrum of logistics support in a combat environment was only the beginning of the LTF’s mission. The LTF also was responsible for the safety and force protection of more than 1,100 troops from those units.

Soldiers from as far west as Guam and as far east as the Virgin Islands united to form LTF 548. Different components of the Army also united: three Active component, three Army National Guard, and five Army Reserve. The units of LTF 548 included—

  • 548th Headquarters Detachment, from Fort Drum, New York.
  • 21st Cargo Transfer Company, from Fort Lewis, Washington.
  • 647th Aerial Delivery Detachment, from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
  • 610th Quartermaster Company, Army National Guard (ARNG), from the Virgin Islands.
  • 641st Quartermaster Company, ARNG, from Ohio.
  • B Battery, 5­113 Field Artillery Battalion, ARNG, from North Carolina.
  • 322d Maintenance Company, U.S. Army Reserve (USAR), from Minnesota.
  • 400th Quartermaster Company, USAR, from Kentucky.
  • 909th Quartermaster Company, USAR, from Guam.
  • 452d Ordnance Company, USAR, from South Dakota.
  • 311th Mortuary Affairs Team, USAR, from Puerto Rico.

The mentality of “one team-one fight” was emphasized from the beginning; standards were the same across the board. All members of the task force learned the 10th Mountain Division motto on the first day in Iraq. A subordinate would say, “Support the Sword,” while saluting a superior passing by or acknowledging that he understood an assigned task, and the superior would respond, “Climb to Glory.” For the company commanders in the LTF, “Supporting the Sword” meant executing the task force commander’s intent—“to maintain a mission-oriented environment always focused on providing consistent, world-class logistics support to customer units.”

To accomplish this task, each unit needed to translate the idea of “consistent excellence” into specifics for its particular mission. Successfully doing this depended on two factors. The first was to make sure that the individual Soldier—the backbone of the task force—knew the purpose behind what he was expected to do and developed a sense of pride in unit accomplishment. The second, and more time-consuming, task was to improve the operations that the units fell in on—to make a lasting impression in the sand.

Every unit in LTF 548 supported the sword by improving the foxhole. The task force completed substantial mission-related infrastructure and force-protection improvements at major operational sites. Detailed accounts of these improvements can be found in the articles that follow: Air Sustainment Operations at LSA Anaconda , Operating a Central Receiving and Shipping Point, LSA Anaconda’s Forward Redistribution Point , Mortuary Affairs Facility Improvements at LSA Anaconda, Recovery Operations at LSA Anaconda, Providing Clean Water to the Soldier, Supplying Ammunition at LSA Anaconda. The intent of these articles is to document the lessons learned by LTF 548 in providing a wide range of multifunctional logistics support to units across Iraq and to provide “blueprints” that other units might use if tasked with similar missions.

Captain Amy B. Smith, USAR, is the Assistant S–4 of the 120th Infantry Brigade (Training Support), U.S. Army Reserve, at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. She was the Operations Officer and Executive Officer of the 21st Cargo Transfer Company at Balad, Iraq, when this article was written. She has a B.A. degree in criminal justice and Spanish from Siena Heights University and is a graduate of the Transportation Officer Basic Course.