PIERRE – Hundreds of family members, friends and community supporters gathered at T.F. Riggs High School in Pierre on Dec. 17 to welcome home 68 soldiers from the South Dakota Army National Guard’s 152nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion.
The soldiers just returned from a five-month deployment in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
A ceremony was held in their honor, which included speakers Gov. Dennis Daugaard, Pierre Mayor Laurie Gill and Maj. Gen. Tim Reisch, adjutant general of the SDNG.
“On behalf of all South Dakotans, welcome home,” said Daugaard. “These Soldiers are the epitome of dependability, dedication and reliability, and we thank you for your service.”
The Pierre-based 152nd deployed in July with a mission to provide multi-functional combat support and combat service support to forces throughout southern Afghanistan. Multi-functional areas include supply, transportation, maintenance and ordnance support.
“The mission that you performed was critical … and by all accounts, you performed spectacularly,” said Reisch. “When a unit returns, it’s a great relief to the families, spouses, friends and employers who have gone without the companionship and assistance of these fine Soldiers. Your contribution to this deployment has not gone unnoticed and this nation is forever in your debt.”
While in Afghanistan, the 152nd provided logistical command and control and coordination support for a task force within regional commands in the south and southwest, with units located at five forward operating bases.
To the unit’s credit, they improved surveillance and reconnaissance along major supply routes by 50 percent from previous operations – identifying 450 credible threats that were addressed to make convoy operations safer for U.S. and coalition forces.
The unit also maintained a 98 percent readiness rate on all their task force’s equipment, and they provided oversight of contracts totaling $48 million. They executed the movement of 6.5 million pounds of supplies during 150 convoys – covering more than 100,000 miles – to 35 different operating bases. These supplies supported more than 30,000 coalition troops.
“The unit’s motto is ‘Sustain the Fight,’ and these Soldiers’ response to that motto was ‘One Team!’” said Lt. Col. Michael Oster, 152nd commander. “The 152nd Soldiers employed that motto throughout the entire deployment, and they pushed it down to every Soldier that served within our task force. There was nothing that we couldn’t take on and that is exactly what they did each and every day, without question, without fail.”
The 152nd also managed a central issue facility, which maintains more than 150,000 different lines of property worth more than $26 million. The unit processed more than 80,000 transactions of those supplies.
“I could not be more proud to be the commander of this unit; as a team member, as a co-worker and as a member of such a great organization,” said Oster.