FORT LEE, Va. (September 2, 2010)-The 49th Quartermaster Group will undergo significant changes in the very near future.
That’s the word from Lt. Col. Albert J. Tapp, a representative of the organization who said Fort Lee’s only deployable tenant will gradually decrease its personnel footprint due to mandates under Army Transformation.
“In the Army, there are only so many functional brigade-level commands,” said Tapp, the unit’s support operations officer. “The 49th is a functional brigade, meaning that our expertise is in quartermaster-related missions. As the Army moves toward multi-functionality and self-sufficiency at the brigade level, a lot of the missions and responsibilities we would normally perform have been distributed among the organizational sustainment brigades.”
In the past few years, the various sustainment brigades have taken on the role as the Army’s principal combat service support element, providing a diverse mix of sustainment functions.
The 49th began decreasing its rolls with the deactivation of the 58th QM Co. two years ago. More dramatic decreases in personnel will take place next month.
“This year as we start fiscal 2011, we have a total of four units that will deactivate – three in October and one in November,” said Tapp.
The 506th QM Co., 530th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion; 3rd Detachment; and 148th QM Co., 240th QM Battalion, will deactivate by Oct. 15.
The 267th QM Co., 240th QM Bn., one of two petroleum and pipeline terminal operations elements within the 49th, is scheduled to deactivate the following month. The 240th QM Bn. is scheduled for deactivation in August of next year. All remaining 49th units will fall under the 530th CSSB.
From a personnel standpoint, the deactivations will create considerable challenges, said Tapp. He said many of the Soldiers in the deactivated units will be absorbed within the group. The remaining Soldiers will have to be transferred elsewhere.
“We’re being very careful with this,” said Tapp, noting that mitigation is necessary. “It is a very difficult transition. Take, for instance, a Soldier who just arrived at Fort Lee and is assigned to one of these companies that is about to be inactivated. We try to do the best we can so that the Soldier remains at Fort Lee versus coming down on orders to PCS. We’re scrubbing the list, working with the Human Resources Command and (49th Command Sgt. Maj. James Sims) to identify those who should remain within the Group. Those who have been here the longest are the ones who will receive orders first.”
When the moves are complete, the 49th will be roughly half its current size.
“We’re looking at a 42 percent reduction in our (personnel) strength by the end of next year,” said Tapp. “We currently have 2,300 Soldiers. By this time next year, we’ll be somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,359. It will be a significant loss in personnel.”
Tapp said the group’s mission capability will be realigned according to the personnel losses.
“The Army is tagging other units to support the requirements and missions that we will relinquish,” he said.
The changes to the group will continue on throughout the next three years. The group headquarters element is scheduled for deactivation in 2012.
“There will be one battalion remaining,” said Tapp, “the 530th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion. There are still decisions being made on what organization that battalion will report to.”
The 49th is currently a subcommand of the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command located at Fort Knox, Ky. The 101st Airborne Division was formerly its higher headquarters.
The 49th Quartermaster Group is the only unit of its kind in the active duty Army. It has undertaken fueling and other missions since the start of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. It currently has more than 500 Soldiers deployed to Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations.