POWIDZ, Poland –
It takes years of planning and efforts to build and develop a U.S. Army base camp with equitable support for the U.S. Army Soldiers. This job in Poland was given to the 652nd Regional Support Group, a unit from Helena, Montana, the first U.S. Army Reserve unit to be responsible for base operations support in Poland.
While the RSG is tasked with building up the bases and coordinating resources to provide basic Soldier needs and services to units on base, an Area Support Group owns the long-term effort, or a more enduring presence. Col. Erica Herzog, commander of the 652nd RSG and Command Sgt. Maj. Duane Hedrick, command sergeant major for the unit, recently became the senior command team in charge of both organizations in Poland, the RSG and ASG.
“I’m excited and humbled that the 21st Theater Sustainment Command commanding general made a decision to give the RSG operational control (OPCON) over the ASG,” said Herzog. “He had faith in my ability to command both organizations.”
This means that Herzog will now command not only the RSG but also the ASG, all of the current and projected base operations development in Poland. Base operations support includes lodging, latrine and shower facilities, dining facilities, gyms and recreational facilities, to ensure the Soldiers living on base receive the best quality of life possible.
“Prior to the change in relationship structure we focused at the operational and tactical level or boots on the ground to best manage and direct support. Now that we’ve expanded our role to assume an OPCON relationship with ASG Poland, this broadens our periscope and our view of BOS-I (BOS-I is planning and synchronizing efforts for basic life support such as dining facilities, showers and latrines, lodging, and recreational facilities at all base camps) long-term, it amplifies our mission and gives us the opportunity to plan more strategically,” said Herzog.
“Now we can help to shape the right capability within the ASG to execute the BOS-I mission long term. We have the opportunity to make good decisions - the right decisions to provide input into building and shaping what ASG Poland will look like 2 to 3 years down the road.”
Having one command over both organizations makes the effort more efficient. Herzog, can now lead the RSG and ASG with one vision in mind - creating a stronger U.S. Army sustainment effort in Poland.
“The timeline is that there are two rotations of RSGs after us,” added Hedrick. “The ASG will take over after those follow-on rotations.”
The 652nd RSG is tasked with running base operations in 11 locations across Poland, along with some temporary locations in preparation for the Defender Europe 2020 exercise. Defender 2020 will be the largest NATO training exercise in Europe in more than 20 years.
“Having oversight over the ASG and RSG streamlines our goals., Now we have one senior commander providing oversight and guidance on the ground,” Hedrick said.
Lt. Col. Darrell Johnson, acting commanding officer of the Area Support Group and a native of Brookfield, Connecticut is excited to be part of this transformation. This is Johnson’s last assignment in the U.S. Army before transition to civilian side.
“Working together with the 652nd Regional Support Group we can operationalize and execute our Base Operations Support mission as part of the HQDA (Headquarters Department of the Army) Pilot,” said Johnson.
The RSG will Initiate and complete numerous base projects in orders to improve the quality of life for Soldiers. The top three priorities have been improving quality of food in the dining facilities, improving quality of mattresses, and undertaking ground improvement projects. In the next couple of years, the ASG will take full responsibility for the BOS-I mission in Poland.
“We are trying to build a stronger Poland,” adds Herzog. “In order to do that we must synchronize those efforts. Having the ability to shape command structures under one commander is critical for sustainment and long-term growth of BOSI - in Poland.”