Hawaii-based unit completes mission as final brigade to lead materiel recovery element in Afghanistan
by Spc. Erin Sherwood, DVIDS
WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii – More than 100 troops from the 45th Sustainment Brigade’s headquarters met an emotional explosion of cheers, waving signs, and anxious Families and friends, as they marched into the Wheeler Gulch hangar here Dec. 3, marking the end of the Soldiers’ eight-month mission in Afghanistan.
While deployed, the Schofield Barracks-based unit was the final brigade to headquarter the U.S. Central Command Materiel Recovery Element (CMRE) charged with sorting, tracking and recovering all U.S. military equipment from an operational area roughly the size of the state of Texas.
The 8th Theater Sustainment Commander's commander, Maj. Gen. Edward F. Dorman III, joined the eager crowd in applauding the troops, and said, “They are great, they are innovative, and they always find a way to accomplish the seemingly impossible.”
The mission was a first for the sustainment brigade, which has deployed multiple times for support operations to Afghanistan and Iraq, but never as a CMRE unit.
“Rather than bringing equipment into the country like we’ve done for the past 13 years, we were focused on the deconstruction and pushing equipment out of theater,” said Capt. Mina Davis, the logistics and property accountability manager (S4) for the brigade.
The CMRE oversaw the retrograde process for 6,755 pieces of Theater-Provided Equipment valuing more than $300 million, and the brigade also took command of two engineer battalions and a combat sustainment support battalion with troops at 46 bases conducting deconstruction and retrograde operations across Afghanistan.
“Our mission was twofold,” explained Col. Gregory Boyd, the commander of the 45th Sust. Bde. CMRE. “First, to turn over these bases to our Afghan partners so they can continue to utilize them in the future; and second, to return valuable items back into the Army supply system and aid our future readiness.”
The brigade completing over 705 de-scoping projects, and route clearance companies conducted 87 missions clearing over 10,000 kilometers of Afghan highways to keep routes safe for both coalition forces and civilians.
“The biggest piece was definitely relationship building,” said Boyd. “Normally we are not in charge of engineer battalions, so there were a lot of things we had to learn by doing.”
Units rotated in and out of the CMRE’s area of operations, and Maj. Stephen McGowan, the operations officer for the CMRE’s S3, said, “As a headquarters, we also had to ensure new companies arriving were ready to continue the mission for departing units.”
He said, “I believe our deployment is a testament to the ability of our active, guard and reserve forces to pull together, adapt, and accomplish the mission.”
While its headquarters element was deployed, the 45th Sustainment Brigade’s subordinate units continued to provide flexible sustainment capabilities and readiness throughout the Pacific as part of the 8th TSC.