725 housing units moved to Afghanistan to support troop increase

by Angelika Lantz
21st TSC Public Affairs

The “First in Support” command substantiates its motto once again.
In line with President Barack Obama’s decision to send 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the 21st Theater Sustainment Command is doing its part by assisting with building the life support foundation for the upcoming influx of troops.

“The 21st TSC’s 39th Transportation Battalion is leading the reception, staging and onward movement for 725 portable housing units to Afghanistan,” said Maj. Jose Valentin, support operations officer for the 39th Trans. Bn. “These climate-controlled and re-locatable living buildings are conducive to changing weather patterns and provide a more comfortable living environment for our troops.”

The initial mission called for the 39th Trans. Bn. to move 600 portable housing units, with an additional 125 buildings to be airlifted at a later date. The 39th Trans. Bn., which is the primary movement control element for the European theater north of the Alps, dedicated itself to this high-profile mission.

The battalion’s Movement Control Team unloaded the portable housing units, which arrived by commercial truck carrier from the Defense Distribution Depot Europe in Milan, Italy, and reconfigured the loads to allow them to be airlifted to Afghanistan by C-5 Galaxy cargo planes, said Capt. Erin Brunson, the MCT’s air mobility sustainment officer at Ramstein.

“We refer to the MCT as the purple ramp because all of our operations are joint ventures between the Army, Air Force and civilian agencies. In this case, it was our responsibility to coordinate with the Air Force and other (Department of Defense) agencies to ensure each pallet train was properly loaded and documented,” Captain Brunson said. “The (portable housing units) arrived in stacks of eight and had to be broken down into stacks of four before we could reload and secure them to a T3 pallet train of three 463L Air Force pallets.”

The high-impact operation, which required a total of 18 cargo flights, was completed Feb. 18 and served as a moral builder for the 39th Trans. Bn.
“The Soldiers of the 39th Trans. Bn. are proud to expedite these critical housing units, which will enhance their fellow servicemembers’ lives in the tough conditions of Afghanistan,” said Lt. Col. Robert Curran, the 39th Trans. Bn. commander. “Morale and high energy come naturally for the 39th Tran. Bn. Soldiers as they realize how important the mission is and how badly their brothers and sisters in arms need upgraded housing to facilitate the mission.”

“The Soldiers and civilians assigned to the MCT worked tirelessly in order to synchronize the arrival of cargo with the departure of flights,” Captain Brunson added. “We are honored to participate in this mission because we know these 600 portable housing units will have a direct effect on the well-being of our fellow troops in Afghanistan.”

According to a DOD news release dated Feb. 17, Afghanistan will initially see an increase of about 12,000 troops with an additional 5,000 troops scheduled to deploy later. Approximately 8,000 Marines with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Camp Lejeune, N.C., are expected to deploy to Afghanistan in late spring and about 4,000 Soldiers with the 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Ft. Lewis, Wash., will deploy in mid-summer.

Approximately 5,000 additional troops to support these combat forces will receive deployment orders at a later date.