Soldiers Support Jordanian Field Hospital in Afghanistan

By Sgt. Stephanie Hall, USA
Special to AFPS

Army Staff Sgt. Dan G. Bakerofske, 978th Quartermaster Company, pumps fuel into a plastic bottle so he can run tests on the fuel later to make sure it’s up to standard. Bakerofske is part of a forward logistical element of U.S. soldiers supporting the Jordanian Medical Field Hospital in Afghanistan’s Balkh province.

Photo by Sgt. Stephanie Hall, USA

MAZAR-E-SHARIF, Afghanistan – A team of 20 soldiers works relentlessly behind the scenes to maintain a firm foundation of around-the- clock logistical support to the Jordanian Medical Field Hospital.

The Jordanian hospital, located in the northern province of Balkh, provides medical care to countless Afghans, but it’s the daily support of the U.S. soldiers that keeps this facility running.

Twenty soldiers from several units and job specialties make up what’s called a forward logistical element, or FLE to support the hospital. The FLE is responsible for a variety of support duties, – such as providing security for a nearby air field to ensuring generators vital to the daily operations of the Jordanian hospital continue running.

The soldiers’ units include Logistics Task Force 406, the 978th Quartermaster Company, the 1015th Maintenance Company, the 479th Medical Logistics Detachment, the 279th Engineer Detachment, and the 213th Area Support Group.

The FLE provides coalition elements in Balkh province with food and fuel, but its primary mission is to support the Jordanian hospital with whatever it needs, said Maj. Robert K. Liput II, the officer in charge of the FLE.

"We pretty much take all the logistical infrastructure (issues) away from the Jordanians," said Liput. "We manage it so that the Jordanians can focus on their mission, which is providing the humanitarian (medical) relief for the northwest region of Afghanistan."

The support the FLE provides for the Jordanians often differs from the support soldiers normally would give to a U.S. element.

The FLE provides food and drink to the Jordanians daily, said Sgt. James A. Harrison, the supply noncommissioned officer in charge of the FLE.

Liput added that because fresh fruit makes up a substantial portion of the Jordanians’ usual diet, the FLE’s higher command in Karsi-Khanabad allows the FLE to receive more fresh produce than is normally allocated.

The FLE also gives the Jordanians fuel support. "We store and issue fuel, and the Jordanians are the biggest customer here," said Staff Sgt. Kenneth L. Bolton, the fuel NCOIC for the FLE. "They use approximately 800 to 1,000 gallons a day for heating, generators, and vehicles." Most of the fuel is used for the constantly running generators, which keep power for lights, heat and life-saving machines running, he said.

Medical supplies also are vital for the Jordanians, and the FLE makes sure those necessities always are in stock, said Spc. Don J. Adams, who is in charge of keeping up with the medical supply needs for the hospital. Because the Jordanians see so many patients, "the FLE gets top priority for blood and medicine," he said. The hospital sees from 500 to more than 900 patients a day.

The hospital’s pharmacy takes a majority of the daily patients, so the FLE ensures that medicine, vitamins and other pharmacy supplies are always available, said Adams.

The FLE is able to satisfy many more of the Jordanians’ needs because of their long logistical reach.

"The Americans have been here longer, have the capability, have a much greater and longer reach as far as our supply train, and we are able to provide (logistical needs) in a much more expedient fashion than the Jordanians would if they did it themselves," said Liput, adding that’s why both parties agreed to this arrangement.

This FLE team has accomplished a lot to improve the work area for themselves as well as the Jordanian Hospital, said Liput. "Since we’ve been here in the last seven months, this area has drastically changed in its appearance," he noted. Improving hospital structures, enhancing generator capabilities and strengthening security precautions are only a few of the improvements made by Liput’s team, he said.

The quantity and quality of the support produced by the FLE soldiers is strengthened because they know their work indirectly helps each patient who walks through the hospital gates, said Harrison. "We’re supporting the Jordanians in their effort to take care of the Afghan people," he said. "Overall, it’s a mission worthy of giving all we’ve got."