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Unit Handles Excess Equipment Overseas

SSG Adam Holen, South Dakota National Guard, operates a rough terrain container handler. Photo by SFC Theanne Tangen
SSG Adam Holen, South Dakota National Guard, operates a rough terrain container handler. Photo by SFC Theanne Tangen

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN After 12 years of shipping supplies to troops in Afghanistan, a surplus of containers have filled bases throughout the country.

Enter the South Dakota Army National Guard's 152nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion.

The battalion is working to sustain the four transportation units and the ordnance company it manages at Kandahar Airfield. It is also helping units in Regional Command–South draw down equipment.

"I have heard that there are up to 80,000 containers in Afghanistan," says Major David Moore, support operations officer, of Rapid City, SD. "Our goal is to help reduce the number of containers by identifying whether or not they need to be demolished for scrap metal or reused for packing up equipment to send home."

Ninety-five percent of the containers coming in and out of Kandahar Airfield will go to the Central Receiving and Shipping Point, or CRSP, where the containers are inspected.

There are three categories for the containers: One is "seaworthy," where it can be shipped back to the States by a ship; the second is "intra-theater," meaning the container is not good enough to go back on a ship but can be used inside the country; and the third is "demolished," which means it is good only for scrap.

The 152nd is moving the containers at a hectic pace, eliminating more than 1,200 in the last three weeks alone, says Moore.

A hectic pace is what is keeping Sergeant First Class John Kramer, noncommissioned officer in charge, CRSP, of Philip, SD, busy from dawn to dusk.

"There is a lot more to containers than I ever thought," Kramer says. "When you are going down the highway back home and see a container on a truck, you don't think about it. You don't know what it is hauling or what the numbers mean. Now I look at a container and know if it's seaworthy or if it needs to be demolished."

Kramer has a list of things he looks for when inspecting a container.

"Checking for holes in the containers is the biggest thing, and it also gets down to the nitty-gritty of how many dents it has," he says. "The doors need to have a tight seal. We also check the numbers on the container to ensure the container is accounted for on the international database, which tracks the ownership of the container."

Lieutenant Colonel David Bedard, deputy commanding officer, 15th Sustainment Brigade, Fort Bliss, TX, says the 152nd will have contributed to 30 percent of their overall reduction.

"The 152nd has gone above and beyond," Bedard says. "They really are a stellar organization."

– SFC Theanne Tangen