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Offering the comforts of home while enhancing operational readiness, the Army activates a base camp training facility called ...

Force Provider

The $5.4 million Force Provider training module is capable of supporting 550 soldiers and 50 base camp operators during unit rotations at Fort Polk, La.
Product Manager - Force Provider, the Army’s "master builder of deployable cities," activated a state-of-the-art training and test facility during a ceremony Nov. 29 at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, La.

Force Provider is the Army’s premier base camp for deployed troops. The concept was born in 1991 because of inadequate living conditions for U.S. soldiers during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Gen. (Ret.) Gordon R. Sullivan, then Chief of Staff of the Army, directed the development of a containerized, highly deployable "city" that is capable of supporting troops in any environment.

The $5.4 million complex will accommodate rotational units training at JRTC, while allowing Force Provider-designated quartermaster companies to train on the mission-related tasks of setting up, operating, maintaining, sustaining and tearing down a base camp.

The establishment of the Force Provider Training and Test Facility at JRTC is the result of a partnership between the U.S. Army Materiel Command, U.S. Army Forces Command, and U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. It represents the Army’s only permanently-operated Force Provider base camp in the world.

"This partnership is committed to providing soldiers the best training and equipment available anywhere," said Brig. Gen. J.A. "Yogi" Mangual, deputy of acquisition and readiness for the U.S. Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command, and commanding general of the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center (Natick). "Force Provider modules will improve our soldiers’ quality of life and enhance the operational readiness of all units as they execute their mission anywhere in the world."

Missions for Force Provider include rest and refit for combat-weary soldiers, theater reception, intermediate staging base redeployment and base camps for other military operations — such as humanitarian and disaster relief — and peacekeeping missions.

"Force Provider leads the charge in providing quality bare-base life support for our warriors," said Lt. Col. Micheal E.P. Davis, product manager for Force Provider.

The product management office is based at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center (Natick). The Army has tasked Product Manager - Force Provider to build and assemble 36 modules by fiscal year 2003.

The facility also will be used to test and evaluate new and existing life-support systems designed to sustain and improve the quality of life for deployed soldiers in the field. According to Davis, this capability should reduce the acquisition process for fielding some equipment by three to five years and cut research, development, test and evaluation costs by as much as 25 percent.

"I think we can truly say that Force Provider is not only the best that our Army has seen, but the best in the Department of Defense," said Maj. Gen. John C. Doesburg, commanding general of the U.S. Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command.

Quartermaster soldiers set up a Tent, Extendable Modular Personnel (TEMPER) during the construction of Force Provider at Fort Polk, La.
In the event of a contingency requiring Force Provider, one of the first units that will deploy to operate a base camp is the 488th Quartermaster Company (Force Provider). The unit relocated from Fort Bragg, N.C., to serve as "training cadre" for the compound, while supporting the 142nd Corps Support Battalion and Warrior Brigade at Fort Polk.

"Their mission is to become the Army’s expert in managing Force Provider operations," said Col. Gregory Lynch, commander of the Warrior Brigade.

One of the 488th QM Company’s primary responsibilities is to train four other Force Provider companies in the reserve component. These units are the 216th Quartermaster Company in Mankato, Minn.; 542nd Quartermaster Company in Erie, Pa.; 691st Quartermaster Company in Los Alamitos, Calif.; and 802nd Quartermaster Company in Columbus, Ga.

Force Provider offers high-quality living conditions featuring advanced laundry, shower, latrine, kitchen and billeting systems, as well as religious and morale, welfare and recreation facilities. The entire Force Provider base camp is environmentally controlled, supporting temperatures between minus 15 and 120 degrees.

"Just about anything that’s on an Army installation, you can find here," said Capt. Mark Evans, commander of the 488th QM Co. "We offer complete service for the soldier."

These logistical luxuries are like a "little slice of home for our deployed soldiers," said Mike Hope, engineer for Product Manager - Force Provider.

Each module is a containerized, rapidly deployable system that can be transported by land, sea or air. A Force Provider module is typically established on 10 acres of land. On average, it takes three to four days to prepare a site, then five to six days to set up the base camp and make it fully operational. A single module is capable of supporting 550 soldiers and 50 base-camp operators.

"The (company) commander is essentially the mayor of a small city when everything in Force Provider is set up," Lynch said.

Force Provider modules may be prepositioned at key locations for rapid response to contingencies around the world. The first Force Provider module served as a base camp for troops participating in Operation Sea Signal at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in July 1994. In November 1995, six Force Provider modules were deployed to Bosnia in support of Operation Joint Endeavor.

"The U.S. Army and this country have the best soldiers in the world, and they’re trained to fight and survive in austere conditions," Davis said. "But once they finish their missions, we owe them all the support systems that we can give them to improve their quality of life. Force Provider is a place where soldiers can rest and relax, and feel like they have many of the comforts of home. It helps them recuperate quickly, so that they can continue to execute their missions in those harsh environments."

Surviving family members of Thomas J. Sullivan, a key member of the Force Provider team, attended the dedication ceremony.
The JRTC base camp is dedicated to the memory of Thomas J. Sullivan, who passed away in July 1998. As a senior logistics management specialist, Sullivan was instrumental in developing the first Fort Provider modules in 1994. His family participated in a ribbon cutting during the ceremony, which took place two days before what would have been Sullivan’s 65th birthday.

"There’s a lot to be proud of," said Brendan Sullivan, the youngest of Sullivan’s three children. "It’s really outstanding, the work that Dad and the Force Provider team were able to accomplish."

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