LRS commander builds relationships in Middle East

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Magen M. Reeves
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
Germany, Australia, Turkey and Afghanistan, what do all of these countries have in common?

Maj. Ryan Murray, 341st Logistics Readiness Squadron commander.

During the period between May 2014 to Nov. 2014, Murray participated in the Federal Armed Forces foreign mission within the framework of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

For the work Murray did he was awarded the Bronze Foreign Duty Medal of the Federal Armed Forces on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany on Jan. 6, 2015.

Murray received the medal along with his team members, Air Force Reserve Maj. Joseph Wilson from Keesler AFB, Mississippi, and Capt. Eric Birdsong from Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

Murray completed a six-month deployment out of Beale Air Force Base, California, to a joint coalition task force in Kabul, the capital of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, to advise national level logistics for the Afghanistan Army and Police at the Logistics Command Central Supply Depot.

"We were deployed as logistics combat advisors," said Murray. "We were stationed in Kabul, out of ISAF, and we were meant to advise Afghans on their logistics process at a national level. We were teamed up with a joint coalition team from all over the world- Army, Navy, Australia, Turkey, Germany and Albania."

In Kabul, Murray worked with an international team to coordinate supply and demand for the Afghan forces.

"We would go out there every day and try to help them improve their supply processes,  like what we have, although they are very new at formal logistics compared to us," said Murray. "Supplies include everything from trucks, Humvees, vehicle parts, backpacks, and building materials to personal items like boots, toothbrushes and towels. Supplies are collected contributions from the coalition community. Requests for supplies are submitted and must go through on approval and accountability and delivery process."

The deployment to Kabul made Murray's fourth deployment to the Middle East and his third to Afghanistan.

"We've been helping Afghanistan since 2001, implementing the supply process by building up their inventory with everything that the coalition can give to them," said Murray. "As well as having accountability (during the process) and getting the supplies to the right people at the right time."

During this time, there were several major events for the joint task force command, Maj. Gen. Harold Greene was killed in what seemed to be a very targeted attack, the U.S. and coalition advising roles was under review from the Office of Secretary of Defense, Afghanistan was holding their first presidential election in history to democratically transfer power, and major coalition combat operations in Afghanistan had ceased although Afghan community concerns and inside-force threats were still very prevalent.

"Working in the Afghan system is very challenging," said Murray. "There are a lot of miscommunications, corruption and difficulties (from the Afghan side of logistics) getting the items from higher up to the troops out in the field. That communication process is very convoluted at times, especially when less than 10 percent of the population is literate. My team and I worked very hard to build relationships and to bring advisors and Afghans together to resolve their issues face to face. The Afghans think that they have explained their requests very well up the chain, but what they get back most the time is a very different thing."

After his service at the depot in Kabul, Murray returned to the United States and had a permanent change of station to Malmstrom. On July 16, 2015, he became the commander of the 341st Logistics Readiness Squadron.

"LRS is like the legs of the wing," said Murray. "We have 800 vehicles in operation that we maintain, we handle logistics plans, nuclear weapons related material and we supply the wing. The impact of the LRS is huge, and if diminished in any way the wing would feel it."

This is his first intercontinental ballistic missile capable base.

"To support the ICBM mission we have to ensure that the people operating and supported the ICBMs are taken care of," said Murray. "The mission is unique because it focuses on global deterrence and it never stops. We keep the wolves at bay."

Murray intends to communicate to Airmen here at Malmstrom the lessons and skills he has learned in the Middle East.

"Being in the military is to become individually broader," said Murray. "We don't just support the home station now. We are seeing the real impact by providing welfare to the world. If we didn't, there would be major turmoil. And the people we are helping appreciate it. Afghans have given me and those I've deployed with many thanks for just being there and being their friend. Building those friendships and breaking that barrier is vitally important."