Thousands of Alabama National Guard troops have served in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11, and fewer than 100, most of them with the Birmingham-based 20th Special Forces Group, are in those countries at present. Ten soldiers with an aviation detachment are due home soon from Afghanistan.
The new logistics team for Afghanistan is to consist of about 10 to 15 volunteers, and the soldiers in its ranks will consist of high-ranking noncommissioned officers and commissioned officers. A colonel will command the team.
Logistics, as defined by the Google online dictionary, refers to “the organization of moving, housing, and supplying troops and equipment.”
U.S. military forces have an effective system of logistics, but Afghan forces are still struggling to establish one of their own. The Associated Press reported this week that the Taliban and some of their allied troops nearly captured the northern Afghan provincial capital of Kunduz in April. The provincial governor said Afghan forces were “without food, fuel or ammunition for days on end.”
“If you can’t get the stuff you need to fight with, you’re just kind of sitting there,” said Col. Curtis Faulk, who heads the Fort McClellan Army National Guard Training Center.
“A soldier can’t fight if he can’t eat, he can’t fight if he doesn’t have bullets, he can’t fight if he doesn’t have boots on his feet,” said Maj. Andrew Richardson, a Guard spokesman. “So logistics makes sure you’ve got the boots, beans and bullets, as we like to say.”
Faulk, who lives in Homewood, was a part of an embedded training team (ETT) of Alabama Guard soldiers who worked with Afghan national security forces in 2004-05. Other embedded training teams of about 10 to 15 Alabama Guard soldiers followed, and the last team came home in 2010.
Richardson said Guard soldiers on the training teams worked with their Afghan counterparts “on a lot of different things,” including “military policing and infantry tactics and all the typical things you would expect” fledgling security forces to have to learn.
Logistics “is something that a more mature force looks to learn more about,” Richardson said.