Sunday, January 27, 2002

Lt. Col. Daniel Georgi gave a tour last week of the soldiers' living quarters at Force Provider, the Joint Readiness Training Center, in Fort Polk, La.

Behind the scenes

The 524th Corps Support
arrive first and leave last

By Gregg K. Kakesako

FORT POLK, La. >> When Lt. Col. Daniel Georgi and his staff turn off the lights and tie up the last tent flaps at base camp Force Provider here on Feb. 5, all members of the 25th Infantry Division's Task Force Eagle will have been back in the islands or visiting relatives on the mainland for more than a week.

But that's nothing new for Army combat support units whose mission is to be on the scene hours after soldiers move into an area to establish the bare necessities -- food, water, ammunition and fuel.

While all the attention was focused on the infantry and its work up at the Joint Readiness Training Center for the big peacekeeping operation in Bosnia this spring, there were other Tropic Lightning soldiers whose tasks were equally important to ensure that the operation ran smoothly.

"We get there before everybody," said Georgi, 40, "and leave after everyone is gone. It is our job to shut it all down when the operations are over and then tear down the base camp."

In this case, it was the support operation designed to replicate the civilian work force that will provide the necessary food, water, laundry, fuel, ammunition and other supplies to Task Force Eagle while it is stationed in Bosnia for six months.

The town of Zvornic, a replicated town of Bosnia. It was Georgi's job to ensure that soldiers participating in training exercises received all the supplies they needed to carry out their mission.

As part of the U.S. element of 2,100-member Task Force Eagle, the Tropic Lightning soldiers will be responsible for Multinational Division North -- one of three divisions created under the terms of the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords which ended the Balkan conflict.

Most of the 1,200 combat soldiers from the 25th Division who will be sent to Bosnia belong to 2nd Brigade's 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, nicknamed "Golden Dragons." They will be located in the southern sector, with the Indiana Army National Guard and 25th Division aviators assigned to the northern part.

Georgi heads Schofield Barracks' 524th Corps Support Battalion and has been manning the base camp here known as Force Provider since New Year's Day. It served as the headquarters and key logistical supply point for civilian contractors supporting the simulated Bosnian mission.

While 1,200 soldiers from the Tropic Lightning's Golden Dragons were living in simulated Bosnian field conditions in Fort Polk's training area known as "the box," it was Georgi's job to ensure that these soldiers received the "beans and bullets" to carry out their mission.

This meant trucking out at least two hot meals, breakfast and dinner, daily to two bases, called Camp Morgan and Camp Conner, that had no kitchen facilities. At Camp Conner two massive circus tents were erected; one was used as a sleeping area and the other for after-duty hours recreation. There also were shower and toilet facilities in the camp.

Georgi estimated that his 231-member unit provided 24,000 meals, moved 50,000 gallons of water, dispersed 160,000 gallons of fuel, drove 9,000 miles in 150 separate trucking missions, delivered three tons of lumber and concertina wire, performed more than 90 maintenance missions and handled 650 pieces of laundry.

The deployment from Hawaii to Fort Polk was treated as a realistic assignment. "We shipped our equipment by ship from Pearl Harbor, and it landed at Beaumont, Texas, where it was sent by rail to Fort Polk," Georgi said.

This is Georgi's second tour with the 25th Division. A Desert Storm veteran, Georgi was with the 10th Mountain Division when it moved into Haiti in September 1994.

Over the past two years, his battalion has deployed to the Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island, the Joint Readiness Training Center on regular combat exercises, the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., and to Thailand twice for the multinational "Cobra Gold" exercise.

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