Air Force contributes to joint special operations mission
SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- The original Sparta was a warrior society in ancient Greece and Spartan culture was centered on loyalty to military service. Located at the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia, such a place still exists.
Camp Sparta is a secure and isolated compound where joint service logisticians from all branches of service and support disciplines are attached to United States Special Operations Command Central’s Joint Special Operations Forces Support Detachment – K. The compound serves as a trans-regional, intermediate-level staging base and logistics hub for special operations personnel and cargo coming in and out of theater. The JSSD-K mission began in 2012, but in December 2016, a U.S. Central Command execution order solidified and expanded its mission.
“The personnel assigned to the JSSD-K are America’s top tactical to operational level logisticians, maintainers, engineers, and contracting personnel, many of whom were hand-picked for this unique mission set,” said Army Lt. Col. Joseph Thomas, JSSD-K commander. “Our predominately Air Force-filled headquarters staff was a critical ingredient to our expanded mission, and increased successes that we’ve had throughout the area of responsibility. Their inherent ability to conduct liaison and day-to-day operational interaction with the 386th and the Joint Special Operations Aviation Command has been a complete game changer in the velocity and volume of cargo moved forward in support of SOF operators.”
Thomas leads the camp and its unconventional organizational structure at Camp Sparta, in addition to two subordinate SOF support elements located in Southwest Asia. The team is comprised of Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Defense Department civilians and contractor field service representatives.
The camp is also occupied by logisticians from Support Center Iraq, manned by members of Naval Special Warfare Command and Marine Special Operations Command, and Support Center Syria, manned by members of the 5th Special Forces Group Support Battalion. Together they provide direct support to Combined Joint Special Operations Task Forces Iraq and Syria, respectively. All three entities work together to support the entire AOR.
The Air Force was tasked to fill a large portion of the unit’s headquarters positions for two six-month rotations. The Army National Guard will replace the headquarters staff from the current Air Force rotation and are expected to continue the mission indefinitely.
“Our mission continues to evolve,” said Air Force Capt. Dean Kazi, JSSD-K operations officer. “We have 7 million dollars of construction breaking ground this month to build a new joint logistics operations center, upgrade our maintenance hangars, and put in latrines and laundry facilities in order to increase our capability and capacity. We also plan on developing a new ammo holding area.”
The JSSD-K team supports a wide variety of missions, to include Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom Sentinel in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, as well as other SOF operations, activities, and actions throughout SOCCENT’s 20-country AOR.
The camp also serves as a joint reception, staging, onward movement and integration for hundreds of SOF personnel moving in and out of the theater each month. Furthermore, they handle intermediate level maintenance capabilities, providing repair and modifications on special operations peculiar vehicles and weapon systems.
“I am a government liaison ensuring the contract companies are doing what is expected of them,” said Tech. Sgt. Patrick Sandridge, JSSD-K maintenance non-commissioned officer in charge and assistant contracting officer representative. “If everything meets government standards, I accept the repaired weapon system or modified vehicle and push it forward for special operations forces down range.”
A typical day can include maintenance and modification operations, communications equipment and weapons system installation, cargo runs to the seaport and airports, supply runs to nearby installations, and coordinating multi-modal movements of personnel and cargo throughout the AOR.
“Commanding the JSSD-K has been the most challenging, yet rewarding experience that I’ve had in nearly 20 years of service,” Thomas said. “This organization is undoubtedly the most diverse, covering more sustainment disciplines with every branch of service and supporting a wide variety of SOF organizations in an extremely complex region of the world. Pound for pound, the JSSD-K provides an unmatched level of support throughout the sustainment enterprise.”