Story by Staff Sgt. Peter Berardi
316th Expeditionary Sustainment Command
KUWAIT NAVAL BASE, Kuwait - After a decade of war, the Army relies heavily on the Army Reserve for its technical and support capabilities, including Army Reserve watercraft. Equipped with one of the newest vessels currently available to the Army, Reserve mariners stationed aboard the USAV Maj. Gen. Robert Smalls (LSV 8) at Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait, support movement of equipment throughout the U.S. Army Central Command area of responsibility for all branches of the military.
The reserve mariners move all types of equipment, from supplies to vehicles, in support of ARCENT. Moving these materials through the area requires working closely with the U.S. Navy and our Kuwaiti partners.
Recently, Commanding General Third Army, U.S. Army Central Lt. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks visited the Army Reserve crew of the Maj. Gen. Robert Smalls. “The work that's done by our Army watercraft is very important,” said Brooks. “You are unsung heroes, you make it happen time after time.”
One of the new Kuroda-class logistics support vessels is assigned to Reserve soldiers with the 420th Movement Control Battalion stationed at Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait, and exceeds the older, but still in service, Besson-class LSVs in many ways. Among the numerous improvements, the Maj. Gen. Robert Smalls is faster, more than 40 feet longer, can carry more than 200 more tons of cargo and has a significantly longer bow ramp allowing for roll on roll off operations on shallower beach gradients.
“Saying hey, we are an Army Reserve unit that is deployed on one of the two new LSVs, there’s a lot of pride there,” said Staff Sgt. James Waggoner, a resident of Pearl City, Hawaii, and a junior marine engineer with the 548th Transportation Detachment currently deployed to Kuwait.
An LSV’s crew is composed of 23 enlisted personnel and eight warrant officers with the vessel master generally being a chief warrant officer four. “The Army maritime field is the oldest of the warrant officer MOSs [military occupation specialty],” explained Chief Warrant Officer 2 Richard Martin, a resident of Beaver, Pa., and member of the 316th ESC support operations section. “It is a very challenging, highly technical career field and the course is fast paced and academically intense. The Reserve crews also bring a diverse set of civilian skills with them, which enhances their problem solving skills.”
Being Army Reservists, the vessel crews bring more experience than just their MOS and are trained to manage specialized capabilities. “We are a pretty diverse crew and can do a lot more than active component crews can do,” said Sgt. 1st Class Mathew Bechtold, a native of Jerseyville, Ill., and member of the 805th Transportation Detachment from Tacoma, Wash. “We bring more to the table because we have training in other areas from our civilian jobs. Our crew, at one point or another, has been licensed on anything that moves, so there’s nothing that we can’t operate. We’ve got two commercial airline pilots, I used to be in Navy subs [submarines] and Staff Sgt. Angle used to work on wheeled and track vehicles. It’s kinda like the A-Team, just a little bit bigger.”