By Sgt. Brandon Little
Task Force XII

CAMP TAJI, Iraq – It starts with a few letters and cards; next, a box stuffed with snacks and candy. Pretty soon there’s a constant stream of care packages, from loved ones and friends, jam-packed with everything from home-made cookies to electric fly-swatters.

In the span of a few months, these trinkets, and those must-have items from the PX, have grown into mountainous piles. When Soldiers and equipment must relocate, because of a mission change, something must be done with these accumulated items.

For the Soldiers of Task Force Storm, who are preparing to move to their third location in the last 12 months, this is a situation they know all too well.

As these Soldiers begin to shift their operations to Baghdad International Airport, they must coordinate to move their equipment and personal items; all while training the units coming to replace them and continuing to perform their regular mission.

“Conducting in-theater moves, between posts in Iraq, are fairly easy when compared to moves in and out of theater,” said Sgt. 1st Class Derrick Mims, the Task Force Storm movement non-commissioned officer. “There’s not as much paperwork and planning because all you have to do is fill out a couple of forms, and then they just put the equipment containers on a trailer and convoy them where they need to go.”

Even though the original move, from Logistics Support Area Anaconda to here, might have been an inconvenient experience for the Soldiers; it was definitely a learning experience that helped them with this move, said Mims, who hails from Shreveport, La.

“The biggest problem we had during our first move was making sure that identification tags on each piece of equipment was for that particular piece of equipment,” he said. “Some ID tags for the equipment had either been put on the wrong piece of equipment or had fallen off, and there were pieces of equipment being tracked as still in LSA Anaconda when they were actually here.”

Working closely with each company’s movement control officer is why, Mims says, this move has gone a lot smoother than the previous one.

As for their personal items, many Soldiers have decided to mail them either to BIAP or back to Germany; other things, such as televisions and refrigerators, will end up with the incoming Soldiers.

While equipment and personal items are being transported to BIAP, these Soldiers are also performing a Relief-in-Place with the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, from Fort Hood, Texas.

“This move is a little different from the one here, because when (Task Force Storm) left LSA Anaconda there was no unit to replace us,” said 1st Lt. Nathan Greer, a platoon leader in Company C, 3rd Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment. “Now we have an entire brigade coming in behind (Task Force XII) with twice as many people, and that will make things cramped for a few weeks.”

These situations may be a little unpleasant for some, but ensuring their replacements are properly trained outweighs the comfort-ability factor, say Greer, a native of Owasso, Okla.

During transition periods like this, it can be easy for morale to lower and frustrations to build; so the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers representative for Task Force Storm, Spc. Marc Walton, tries to help organize events and activities for the Soldiers.

“It’s been a little rough trying to plan things because we’ve been so busy, but it’s hard to tell the Soldiers that we don’t have anything planned,” said Walton, who hails from Lisbon, Ohio. “I’m trying to get a few barbecues organized before we go, to try and keep everybody active so they won’t sit around in their rooms and think about how much time they have left.”

While stationed at BIAP, Task Force Storm will be part of Task Force 49 and they will fall under Multi-National Division – Central.

Moving a few times has really helped the time pass and it’s also kept the Soldiers from getting complacent, said Mims, who is on his third deployment.

Even though this will be their third move, during this deployment, every tunnel has a light at the end and Task Force Storm Soldiers say they can definitely see that light.

“When we get to BIAP, hopefully we’ll be doing more air assaults and more night missions; we want to go out with a bang,” said Greer. “I think everybody’s pretty excited about getting down there and doing something new; and before we know it, it’ll be time to pack up and go home.”