Meet the 24-year-old 1LT with the $1 billion hand receipt

| April 1, 2016 | 0 Comments
Staff Sgt. Charles Rolando (center), an ammunition manager with the 24th Ordinance Company from Fort Stewart, and two Iraqi Soldiers discuss where to park his truck loaded with Iraq Train and Equip Fund supplies March 12, 2016, in Iraq. Soldiers distribute ITEF supplies to the Iraqi military, which uses them for training and to fight Daesh, also known as the Islamic State.

Staff Sgt. Charles Rolando (center), an ammunition manager with the 24th Ordinance Company from Fort Stewart, and two Iraqi Soldiers discuss where to park his truck loaded with Iraq Train and Equip Fund supplies March 12, 2016, in Iraq. Soldiers distribute ITEF supplies to the Iraqi military, which uses them for training and to fight Daesh, also known as the Islamic State.

Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Victor Joecks
17th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs

 

BAGHDAD — While many recent college graduates begin their long climb up the corporate ladder with few responsibilities beyond making sure their boss has a fresh cup of coffee in the morning, the Army routinely entrusts its Soldiers with weighty responsibilities.

For most Soldiers that responsibility is a weapon with lethal capabilities. For 1st Lt. Jonathan Shannon, a 24-year-old with the 271st Movement Control Team, 53rd Transportation Battalion, 7th Trans. Brigade, out of Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., that responsibility is more than $1 billion in equipment that he is personally liable for.

“I am an ITEF (Iraq Train and Equip Fund) responsible officer,” Shannon said. “I receive, coordinate, and divest Iraqi Security Forces equipment, material ammunition and classes of supply.”

ITEF is money set aside by Congress to provide supplies to the Iraqi military in the fight against Daesh (another name for the Islamic State).

In the first few months of his deployment, the value of the ITEF items that have passed through Shannon’s hand receipt has topped $1 billion.

“Just like someone that’s signed for a humvee is responsible, I’m responsible for all the ITEF in my possession,” Shannon said. “The same financial penalties and liability is there.

“It would be a very bad financial windfall for myself and my Soldiers if we were to lose accountability. My Soldiers and I take it very, very seriously,” he said.

While his potential financial liabilities far outpace what Shannon could earn in a military career, there is a reason he is confident in his team’s ability to complete the mission.

25th ID logoShannon specifically praised Master Sgt. Bennie Smith, Forward Logistics Element noncommissioned officer in charge, with the 524th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 25th Sust. Brigade, 25th Infantry Division. Despite coming from different units, Shannon and Smith act as the command team of the FLE that consists of Soldiers from over ten different units. One of their distinct missions is ITEF.

“It’s a gentleman’s agreement,” said Smith. “We all understand that he’s commander and I’m first sergeant, and we all have to work together to make mission happen.”

The Soldiers are “put in an environment where they have to work together to accomplish the mission,” said Smith. “We have [many] different sections, and we all come together.”

“That’s why Master Sergeant Smith has such a vital role,” said Shannon. “I’m focused on operational, and he focuses on the rotation of Soldiers and makes sure they’re taken care of.”

Staff Sgt. Melvin Correalopez, ITEF NCOIC with the 24th Composite Supply Company out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, is one of the Soldiers working directly with divesting ITEF supplies.

“When I first got here, my main mission was to supply water, but I started working with DOD and coalition forces (and dealing with ITEF),” Correalopez said. “This ITEF mission, I love it. I’m doing something different … if (the Iraqis) don’t have the equipment to train on, (they’re not able to complete the mission). We’re making a difference.”

“My Soldiers – a lot of us – feel like we’re the tip of the spear,” said Shannon. “We’re not only supporting the Americans, but the warfighters who are in harm’s way and dying are using our equipment and ammunition we divest. It can be the difference, for the Iraqi warfighter, between their life and death.”

More than $1 billion in equipment has enabled Iraqi forces to make a significant difference.

“Those are the guys who are kicking,” noted Correalopez. “They took Ramadi. Their vehicles, equipment – we are supplying them.”

In the midst of the seemingly endless planning and paperwork, Shannon has on occasion reflected on the mission, his billion-dollar responsibilities and the impact his team is having.

“There is always that one moment where, ‘Wow, this is big,’” Shannon said.

Tags: , , , ,

Category: Deployed Forces, News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *