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Home : News
NEWS | Feb. 22, 2022

Connecticut Guardsmen now part of contingency response force

By Sgt. Matthew Lucibello, 130th Public Affairs Detachment

HARTFORD, Conn – Soldiers from the 143rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion handle a variety of missions. However, this may be their most important mission yet.

The 143rd CSSB of the Connecticut Army National Guard, known by its motto, “Sustain the Sword,” handles the essential logistics of Army operations. This means providing and distributing supplies, from ammunition, meals and water, critical to Soldiers conducting combat operations.

Soldiers of the CSSB deployed to Afghanistan and Poland. In recent times, the CSSB used its skills and assets to help distribute COVID relief supplies such as N95 masks and COVID-19 test kits. Now, members are preparing to aid as part of the Contingency Response Force.

The Contingency Response Force, or CRF, is the designation given to a unit that is intended to be some of the first boots on the ground in the event of a natural disaster or conflict. As a CRF, the CSSB would set up the first operational logistical node and support follow-on units as they filter into the area of operations.

“We would be their logistical coordinators,” explained 2nd Lt. Oliver Simon, the battalion military intelligence officer. “We’d be helping to get fuel to the frontlines or getting water and ammunition to the infantry units that need it that are short.”

Members of the CSSB would not drive supply trucks to the front or hand out relief supplies at community centers, however. They would act as enablers by leading and directing sustainment units, keeping records, tracking distribution and creating orders and plans to facilitate supply movements.

“We’ve got to forecast out because you can’t wait until you’re black on (out of) ammunition,” said Simon. “You’ve got to provide a steady chain of resupply, and that goes for fuel, water, food, anything you need.”

With this CRF designation comes a definite change of pace.

“Now, it is completely different with the CRF mission,” Simon said. “We’re very busy developing intelligence products, developing logistics products, trying to produce an order, as I said, to tell the unit what to do.”

In addition to developing these products and creating operations orders, the battalion has been diving into the military decision-making process, or MDMP, performing staff exercises, and working around the clock in Waterbury and at training sites around Connecticut, such as Camp Nett in Niantic, to prepare.

“Every month, we set up our command post, our TOC (Tactical Operations Center),” said Simon. “Consisting of three different tents, they’re about the size of this room; they’re quite big.”

TOCs are where officers and enlisted Soldiers of the staff sections can perform all the operations needed to ensure logistic operations run smoothly while in the field, usually in austere conditions. These TOCs are also rapidly deployable, fieldable and relocatable.

“We have to be able to jump TOC, essentially pick up and leave at a moment’s notice,” Simon said. 

To make sure CSSB members are ready, the 143rd Regional Support Group, the CSSB’s higher headquarters, has been monitoring their progress.

“We’ve got an operational inspection program where the brigade requires us to meet certain criteria as a unit, so they’re looking at us more closely,” said Simon. “They’re analyzing, you know, are we doing things up to standard, are we following SOPs (standard operating procedures), are we doing things the right way.”

In addition to these mission-specific tasks, Soldiers of the CSSB are keeping up with their individual tasks and duties. CSSB Soldiers have been earning their weapon qualifications and making sure all drivers in the unit are licensed and qualified. Soldiers who have yet to become military occupation specialty qualified are continuing to train with the unit until they go off for their specialized job training. The CSSB will also be conducting its two-week annual training, in Jericho, Vermont.

Every Soldier in the battalion knows how vital their role is, and many have been working overtime to ensure the unit is ready.

“It gets taken for granted a lot because we are behind the scenes,” said Simon. “If you don’t have supply and you don’t have that steady flow, then you can lose a war.”