Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dowd commands the U.S. Army's 1st Sustainment Command. The command oversaw operations for the troop withdrawal from Iraq, which included the recently returned 230th Sustainment Brigade out of Chattanooga.
Dowd was commissioned in 1979 and has commanded various Army support units, working with Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. The general talked with the Times Free Press by phone on Jan. 5 about the unit's recent 10-month deployment to Kuwait.
Soldiers with the brigade returned home Jan. 4.
Q: Describe for readers the recent mission for the Chattanooga-based 230th Sustainment Brigade of the Tennessee Army National Guard.
A: The 230th was a brigade within an 18,000-troop theater command in the Middle East. Their original mission was to operate from Iraq, while at their mobilization site their mission changed to Kuwait. Brigade commander Col. Mark Hart led the unit as they took over operations for an active duty unit. They didn't miss a beat. They did all transportation of gear and equipment coming out of that part of Iraq, supply and repair parts flowing through and ammunition transport to Afghanistan.
Q: Common perception is that over the last year combat threats for U.S. convoys are not much of an issue. Did the brigade have security concerns as some soldiers traveled between Kuwait and Iraq?
A: A couple got hit by improvised explosive devices. They are tremendous soldiers, very well trained. Some had gone across 52 times. The noncommissioned officers in this Old Hickory brigade made sure all of those convoys were properly prepped and briefed. They were very familiar and proud of what they've done for our nation.
Q: It sounds like there was a lot going on during the brigade's 10-month tour. Could you talk about important elements that keep a unit's operations running smoothly?
A: It's about leadership. And the 230th had some tremendous officers and NCOs. They understood their unit. It's also about taking time after a long convoy and sitting down with these young soldiers and talking to them. These guys were really motivated for the mission. They have a lot of pride in Tennessee.
Q: The Tennessee Army National Guard and other Guard and reserve branches have been tasked with repeated deployments during post-9/11 military operations. As an active duty U.S. Army general how do you think these forces have performed?
A: These guys are coming trained and they've got great pride. I treat them all as soldiers. They line up in front of me; I bring them all in as one team. I think if you treat them as respected soldiers they will get the mission done. I've got the greatest respect for the Guard. This was probably the most active sustainment brigade in this drawdown.
Q: What helps soldiers with these deployments and overseas missions?
A: I really want to thank the families of these great citizen-soldiers who let their loved ones go off for a year and stayed back their in the great state of Tennessee and I can just tell there is a great bond between a lot of these young men and women and their families. We often forget our families, we think about that guy out on point. But the families, if we get that right, and make sure they're taken care of these soldiers can do anything.