529th CSSB returns from federal active duty

Lt. Col. Dennis Rohler and Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Coleman, the 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion leadership team, case the 529th’s colors during the Transfer of Authority Ceremony to the 152nd Support Battalion Sept. 7, 2019. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. David Clemenko)

RICHMOND, Va. — Approximately 70 Soldiers assigned to the Virginia National Guard’s Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group returned to the United States Sept. 11, 2019, after serving on federal active duty in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, headquartered in Camp Taji, Iraq since Dec. 2018. During the deployment they planned and coordinated combat sustainment support, managing all commodities, Operational Contracting Support and Counter-ISIS Train and Equip Fund, as well as maintenance support for numerous units operating in the Central Command Area of Responsibility with Soldiers in 14 locations spread across four different countries. 

“We leave the Operation Inherent Resolve Area of Operation with distinct pride in what we all accomplished together as a Task Force,” said Lt. Col. Dennis Rohler, commander of the 529th CSSB. “What I am most proud of is the ability for our teams to operate as decentralized as we did. This takes incredible discipline and vision from every team member. As Command Sgt. Maj. Coleman and I travelled around we had the opportunity to meet a majority of the Soldiers and the leadership and see the high level of execution that were the keys to our successes.”

The Soldiers arrived at their demobilization station of Fort Hood, Texas, where they will receive reintegration training, medical evaluation and administrative tasks to transition from federal active duty to traditional National Guard Status. Most Soldiers of the 529th returned to Virginia Sept. 18.

The 529th had no Soldiers killed in action or seriously wounded during the deployment. 

The Soldiers began federal active duty Nov. 24, 2018, conducted mobilization training at Fort Hood, Texas, and then conducted a transfer of authority ceremony Jan. 7, 2019, at Camp Taji, Iraq, to assume control of the mission. During their deployment in Iraq, the 529th adapted to an ever-developing mission set where the unit provided sustainment operations for the CENTCOM AOR in support of the fight against ISIS. 

The battalion was responsible for more than 700 Soldiers assigned to detachments and companies from four separate battalions and members from 25 different units supporting the OIR mission across the CENTCOM AOR. These Soldiers were distributed across 14 different forward logistics elements that were considered Theater Sustainment Command level assets, providing world-class sustainment support. The battalion oversaw 32 contracting officer representative, CL III, and forward arming and refueling operations across Iraq. These CORs had oversight of the distribution and storage of more than 36 million gallons of fuel for air and ground mobility assets throughout the AO. The battalion executed FARP retail and bulk fuel operations in Syria, Jordan, and Iraq, to support maneuver and mobility assets distributing a total of over 21 million gallons of fuel. 

The battalion also coordinated field feeding sections and conducted field feeding operations at multiple locations across Syria. These teams were augmented with culinary specialists from various units and the battalion maintained oversight of the Dining Facilities Administrative Center operations. The teams provided three hot meals daily, seven days a week for camps that were assigned between 450 and 750 personnel. Over the respective deployment, the battalion prepared and served more than 900,000 meals.

The South Dakota-based 152nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion assumed control of the 529th’s mission at a transfer of authority ceremony Sept. 7, 2019, at Camp Taji, Iraq.

“Headquarters 529th CSSB Cavaliers – you’ve done it!” Rohler said at the ceremony. “Mission complete. The resounding opinion across the AO is you all changed the face of sustainment in OIR. The trust built with our partner nations, higher and lower echelons, and with our replacements, was incredible and key to our success.”

The battalion last mobilized for federal active duty from July 2014 to April 2015. The 529th deployed to Kuwait from Fort Hood in Aug. 2014 and operated at Camp Arifjan, Camp Buehring, Kuwait Naval Base and Al Udeid Airbase, Qatar. During the deployment they planned and coordinated combat sustainment support for U.S. and coalition forces in Kuwait and the surrounding region to include Afghanistan and Iraq; they 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. 

U.S. Army National Guard story by Staff Sgt. Roger Jackson