April 2010 | List all Reader Profile articles
Distributing Ammo and Hot Chow
By Merrill Douglas
Jason Ballard spent four years in the Marines, distributing ammunition in locales as diverseas Somalia and Okinawa. When he left the service, he was tired of logistics.
Six years later, when Ballard graduated from college on an Army scholarship, the newly minted second lieutenant foundhimself back in logistics. "That was a sign," Ballard says.
A good sign, it turns out. Fast forward several years, and there's Captain Ballard, assistant division transportation officer, movingsoldiers and equipment from Fort Hood, Texas, through Kuwait to fighting positions in Iraq.
"It was a great opportunity to see logistics operations in action," he says.
Ten years as an Army sustainmentofficer provided views of the military supply chain from just about every angle. Besides helping to manage the end-to-end flow of assets, Ballard has distributed goods across a brigade, making suresupplies went first to units that needed them most.
He also led a forward support company in Iraq, where his 200 soldiers maintained armored vehicles and trucks, prepared and delivered food, broughtsupplies and equipment into the battalion area, and delivered those goods to infantry and armored units in the cities and countryside.
Ballard took pride in treating soldiers well. For example, it wouldhave been easy to deliver Meals Ready to Eat to a remote outpost every two weeks. But those packaged meals taste "pretty bland," he says, and soldiers deserve better.
Making sure that troops in thesmaller outposts got the same perks as soldiers in more accessible spots took some ingenuity. Once, the company found itself without refrigerated transport. "We bought deep freezers, put them in anarmored stake bed truck, and hooked them to a generator," Ballard recalls. "We made our own refrigerator truck."
Delivering the goods stateside could be just as satisfying, such as the 20-degree day...
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