Michigan National Guard
Story by Capt. Joe Legros
WASHINGTON – Soldiers with Forward Support Company, 107th Engineer Battalion, Michigan Army National Guard arrived this week in Washington to support the Michigan Army National Guard’s 177th Military Police Brigade and U.S. Capitol Police in protecting critical infrastructure in the District.
For the FSC, 107th, they have a heavy emphasis on logistics, primarily on essential tasks such as food distribution and laundry service.
“The greatest thing about being a logistician in the FSC, 107th is demonstrating our team's ability to make things happen and rise to daily challenges,” said Capt. Trevor Kay, the unit’s commander.
Kay lives in Marquette with his wife and 21-month old son. He has been in the Michigan National Guard since 2014 and currently serves full time as the 107th Eng. Bn. training officer.
The company is responsible for food distribution, laundry services and general logistics for over 1,300 Soldiers working in the vicinity of the U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court buildings. Working across multiple shifts, there is almost always an FSC, 107th Soldier actively engaged in multi-functional logistics.
“Our team is ultimately responsible for the successes or failures of sustaining our maneuver element,” said Kay. “Networking, adaptability, and creative thinking is decisive.”
The FSC, 107th plays an integral role in providing those support functions.
“This equates to nearly 4,400 meals distributed daily to nine different locations,” said Maj. Catherine Hodges, logistics officer with the 177th MP Bde. and Joint Task Force Independence, adding the work also includes handling approximately 260 bags of laundry nightly and providing contingency water distribution for 3,000 Soldiers at three separate sites.
“The logistics operations tasked to us are typically the responsibility of a much larger sustainment unit,” shared Kay. “However, with a national-level mission like this, we take the challenge in stride.”
With a large part of the company also tasked with providing perimeter security near the Capitol, the FSC, 107th combined efforts with other units in order to meet the ever-changing logistical needs of the mission.
“It’s really just about filling the gaps,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Christopher Larsen of the Michigan Army Guard’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 156th Expeditionary Signal Battalion. “Whether personnel transportation or delivering medical supplies, we get the job done.”
Larsen, who joined the Michigan Army Guard in 1996 and lives with his wife and two children in Trufant, Michigan, said he’s honored to serve and enjoys helping Soldiers.
“It’s great to be part of history here in Washington,” he said. “This is good training that builds team cohesion for when we deploy overseas again.”
“It feels really good to not only feed the Soldiers, we also get to join with other Guardsmen and Capitol police on front line security, serving right next to them,” said Sgt. Mackenzie Milliner, a cook with the FSC, 107th who also splits her time training with a military police unit in Colorado.
Milliner will soon take on extra duties providing security.
“After serving one more week in food distribution, next week I will also conduct perimeter security,” she said.
To those she works with, her excitement to serve as part of the Washington mission is evident.
“It’s not very often the National Guard is called to conduct a mission as big as this,” said Milliner.
Kay, the company commander, said he feels his combined team has some of the hardest working and most dedicated Soldiers in Washington, and he takes great pride in what they’ve accomplished.
That contributes to mission success, no matter where Soldiers come from.
“Servicemembers come from all over the country to answer the call,” said Col. Chris McKinney, commander of both the 177th MP Bde. and JTF Independence. “But it’s very special when the mission involves our nation’s capital.”
With the Michigan National Guard as the lead element, JTF Independence is a combined, joint military effort to provide security for key buildings around Washington, D.C., and McKinney oversees those efforts.
“What binds Soldiers together is our oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” said Kay, adding it’s a shared promise.
“Our support to the Capitol Police, and their mission, is as connected to that promise as you can get,” he said.
Following the 59th Presidential Inauguration, the National Guard has been requested to continue supporting district and federal law enforcement agencies with security, communications, medical evacuation, logistics, and safety support through mid-March. The Michigan Army Guard is among Guard elements from 30 states.