Face of Defense: Captain Leads Company With Myriad Missions
By Army Sgt. David Hodge
Special to American Forces Press Service
FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq, Nov. 3, 2008 The logistics world in the Army can seem overwhelming to many soldiers, with different sections and platoons operating independently and in conjunction with multiple units on the ground.
Army Capt. John Friel, assigned to Multinational Division Baghdad as commander of the 4th Infantry Division’s Company A, 4th Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, takes a break from work, Oct. 30, 2008, at Forward Operating Base Falcon in southern Baghdad. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David Hodge
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
At this base in southern Baghdad’s Rashid district, Army Capt. John Friel, commander of the 4th Infantry Division’s Company A, 4th Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, Multinational Division Baghdad, makes sense of it all.
Company A provides logistical support to all units operating in the 1st Brigade Combat Team’s area of operations, said Friel, who hails from Warrensburg, Mo. The company also provides personnel and equipment for combat logistics patrols and fulfills force-protection requirements.
“We operate the fuel system supply point to provide bulk fuel to all maneuver units and contractors,” Friel explained. “Also, the soldiers deliver water to the combat outposts and joint security stations throughout the Rashid district.”
The “Anacondas” also are responsible for the forward operating base’s ammunition holding area, the supply-support activity yard, and the system that produces potable water for showers and other uses across the base.
The water-purification system has produced close to a million gallons of water since the company arrived in Iraq, Friel said. “It’s a very dynamic mission for us on FOB Falcon,” the 12-year Army veteran added.
In addition to the missions on the base, the Anacondas also provide convoy security for detainee-related missions, Friel said.
Army 1st Lt. Anna Glandorf, executive officer of the battalion’s Company C, described Friel as a great logistician who puts a lot of faith into his platoon leaders and platoon sergeants.
“Each platoon has a completely separate mission,” said Glandorf, a native of Grand Rapids, Mich. “Captain Friel gives them enough room to execute the mission while still providing oversight.”
Friel, whose father served as an Army major in operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, enlisted in 1992 as a crew member for the Multiple Launch Rocket System. While stationed in Babenhausen, Germany, with the 41st Fires Brigade, Friel met and married his wife, Ellen, a German citizen, in 1995.
Friel separated from the Army to attend college at Central Missouri State University and re-entered the Army as an officer in the Transportation Corps branch. He has commanded Company A for about 20 months, and afterward he will branch out to a functional area, as many officers do, he said.
Friel was recently selected to be a foreign-area officer for his next Army assignment. FAOs act as liaisons between foreign governments and militaries and the U.S. government, he explained. Since he lived in Germany with his military family as a boy and married a German citizen, Friel selected Western Europe as his area of concentration while learning his FAO responsibilities.
“I have a pretty good background in the German language,” Friel said. He will attend the Defense Language Institute after his deployment to study German further.
Friel said he is very proud to be selected to represent the Army and the United States on an international level in Germany.
“Ellen looks forward to going back home to Germany again,” he said. “She is happy with everything we’ve done in the Army.”
(Army Sgt. David Hodge serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 4th Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)