529th CSSB Employer Appreciation Program brings unit leadership together with employers

Lt. Col. Dennis M. Rohler, commander of the Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, thanks Hampton Police Chief Terry Sult for his support of the Virginia Army National Guard during a meeting as part of the 529th CSSB Employer Appreciation Program Oct. 18, 2018, in Hampton, Virginia. Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Coleman (right), command sergeant major of the 529th CSSB, is a lieutenant in the Hampton Police department, and Spc. Jonathan Dominguez (far left), an Intel Analyst with the 529th, is a Hampton police officer who recently graduated from the police academy. (U.S. National Guard photo by A.J. Coyne)

HAMPTON, Va. — Lt. Col. Dennis M. Rohler, commander of the Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, and Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Coleman, command sergeant major of the 529th CSSB, visited with Hampton Police Chief Terry Sult to thank him for his support of the Virginia Army National Guard during a meeting as part of the 529th CSSB Employer Appreciation Program Oct. 18, 2018, in Hampton, Virginia.

Coleman is a lieutenant in the Hampton Police department, and Spc. Jonathan Dominguez, an Intel Analyst with the 529th, is a Hampton police officer who recently graduated from the police academy.

“As we begin the mobilization training, we preached to our team to reach out and thank their employers through the ESGR (Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve) program and by inviting them to the departure ceremony,” Rohler said. “We are making it a goal to personally contact each employer as a command team to thank them ourselves.”

The 529th CSSB received a mobilization order to enter federal active service for duty in the Middle East as part of Operation Inherent Resolve. Approximately 70 Soldiers will begin serving on federal active duty in November 2018 and when they arrive in the Middle East they will operate as a mission command headquarters with the task of planning and executing logistics support for U.S. and coalition forces in the Central Command area of operations.

The 529th command team is attempting to meet with or personally call as many employers as possible before the mobilization to thank them for their support. They’ve also encouraged Soldiers to invite their employers to the departure ceremony.

“These employers feel the impacts of these deployments and we wanted to ensure them that it is not lost on us,” Rohler said. “Family is crucial in supporting this effort – but showing their employers appreciation for their support is also critical.”

Rohler and Coleman also determined that employer buy in is critical to Soldiers being able to envision their long term goals in the Guard.

“There is a parallel planning effort that has to happen between civilian career vision and National Guard career vision,” Rohler said. “Neither can happen independently. We are developing Soldiers and officers with a careerist vision for their time in the Virginia Army National Guard by stressing to them the importance of future planning and having a 10 and 20-year plan.”

This is the third federal active duty deployment for the 529th since being federally recognized in 2009.

The Soldiers are scheduled to report to Fort Hood, Texas, for approximately 25 days of mobilization training before deploying overseas to the Middle East.

The mobilization orders call for an active-duty period not to exceed 400 days, but the Secretary of Defense can extend tours for operational needs for up to 24 months or 730 days.

A combat sustainment support battalion is a multifunctional logistics headquarters that exercises mission command for assigned companies, teams, and detachments executing logistics operations such as the acquisition, storage, movement, distribution, maintenance and disposition of materiel and the acquisition or construction, maintenance, operation and disposition of facilities.

The 529th was formed in December 2006 and is under the command of the Virginia Beach-based 329th Regional Support Group. While in Virginia, the 529th has command and control of the Virginia Beach-based 1173rd Transportation Company, the Blackstone-based 3647th Maintenance Company, the Fort Pickett-based 157th Engineer Platoon and the Onancock-based 576th Engineer Utilities Detachment.

Soldiers assigned to the 529th served in Kuwait and Iraq from July 2014 to April 2015 where they planned and coordinated combat sustainment support for U.S. and coalition forces in Kuwait and the surrounding region to include Afghanistan and Iraq. During their nine months in Kuwait, the 529th adapted to an ever-developing mission set, quadrupled the sustainment capabilities of the battalion and provided ground, sea and air distribution of supplies and equipment, ammunition holding and distribution, maintenance, material handling and supply management by U. S. Army units as well as contracted support. Soldiers from the 529th operated in a forward support element in Iraq that was responsible for the sustainment support that got critical supplies to U. S. and coalition forces conducting combat operations against ISIL as well as advise and assist missions in the region.

The unit previously deployed in March 2010, when it operated from the remote forward operating base at Shindand Air Base in Afghanistan. While there it pioneered logistical support operations as the first U.S. combat support battalion in the area to conduct operations. The battalion was responsible for building an expeditionary life support complex and infrastructure for the entire airbase while providing seamless sustainment operations for supported units as well as helping improve quality of life and promoting economic development in local Afghan communities.The battalion provided command and control for more than 500 Soldiers from three active duty units- the 104th Transportation Company from Fort Benning, Ga., the 183d Maintenance Company from Fort Carson, Colo., and the 226th Quartermaster Platoon from Fort Stewart, Georgia. Working directly with Italian, Spanish, Slovenian and Afghan forces, the unit’s mission was to provide supply, maintenance and transportation support to U.S. and coalition warfighters throughout the region.

The 529th CSSB was one of eight units recognized as a Distinguished Unit of the Regiment during the Quartermaster Regimental Honors and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony June 5, 2015, at Fort Lee, Virginia, The Distinguished Unit of the Regiment award was introduced in 1993 to recognize outstanding units, past and present, who have made a significant contributions to the Quartermaster Corps.

In September 2013 the National Guard Association of the United States presented the 529th CSSB with the Milton A. Reckord Award for training excellence during the 135th NGAUS General Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii. NGAUS presents the Reckord Award each year to the Army National Guard battalion that achieves the highest state of readiness in the country. For the Reckord Award, the battalion must have demonstrated superior performance in the areas of personnel strength, retention, duty MOS qualification, individual and crew served weapons qualification, the Army Physical Fitness Test, drill weekend attendance and annual training attendance. The battalion, along with its organic units, must have demonstrated a commitment to the welfare of its members and their families and to its communities during the training year for which being nominated.