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1st Theater Sustainment Command

News Stories

‘Blackjack’ chief warrant officer recognized for service in Army’s last days in Kabul

By Staff Sgt. Neil McCabe | 1st Theater Sustainment Command | October 20, 2021


A logistics chief warrant officer deployed with the 1st Theater Sustainment Command was recognized during an Oct. 7 award presentation at the 1st TSC's operational command post here.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Scott O. Harned, a petroleum systems technician warrant officer with the 1st TSC (Forward), received the Army Commendation Medal with the "C" device for combat conditions for his service in Kabul, Afghanistan, during the last weeks of U.S. military operations there.

"Chief was the single point of success and failure at Kabul for sustainment," said 1st TSC Deputy Commanding Officer Col. Sean P. Davis.

Army Reserve Col. Garrett R. Kolo, who was 1st TSC's liaison officer in Kabul, noted that Harned was his right-hand man making things happen while they were there. He said that a lot of his information came from the warrant officer and he wouldn’t have been successful without his expertise.

“Many of you were able to see me as the face of the organization for the regular calls… and it wouldn't have all been successful without the battle buddy, having him up there, so thank you very much, Chief.”

Harned deployed to Kabul from June 20 to Aug. 30 as part of the 1st TSC’s liaison team to U.S. Forces Afghanistan – Forward. He was assigned to the logistics section, or the J-4, to assist U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Peter G. Baisley, commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan-Forward, and his team with sustainment support and materiel retrograde operations. He worked at the U.S. Embassy, then at the U.S. facilities at Hamid Karzai International Airport after the embassy closed Aug. 15.

“We were at the embassy originally because that's where Rear Admiral Baisley was at,” said the native of Fairfax County, Virginia. “We were down there with the J-4… trying to establish all the logistical footprint and procedures and support back here to go up forward for all paths of supply for both the embassy and HKIA.”

Davis said when he traveled to Kabul in July with Maj. Gen. Michel M. Russell Sr., the 1st TSC commanding general, they met with Harned and the leadership of USFOR-A (Forward).

“When we were at the embassy,” Davis said. “We were talking about pulling him out, and the leadership there, the senior leadership said: ‘The heck you are. We need him to stay.’”

Harned had entirely integrated himself into the mission.

"I think, honestly, if we tried to pull him out, it would've been like a screeching sound of claws in the ground because he didn't want to leave—I think he'd still be there right now if he could, fighting his way," he said.

Although he was involved in all parts of the logistics mission in Kabul, Harned said his primary function was monitoring fuel supplies for the ongoing operations in HKIA.

It is vital to keep track of fuel supply, and who your customers are, and what their demand on that supply will be so that you are not caught short and subject to banditry, he said. "'Who you support and how much fuel there's going to be?' and you have to do a day-by-day count of it and analysis of how much you have left and what could happen in the future.”

Harned said one of the ways they managed the fuel supply at the airport was to tell flight crews not to expect the opportunity to refuel.

“The Air Force put in a notice to airmen, that if you come into HKIA, you came in heavy, meaning you didn't need to fuel out with or pick up fuel there, you brought in country with enough fuel to retrograde,” he said.

This Air Force directive allowed personnel at HKIA to prioritize vehicles and generators at the airport, he said.

There were very few exceptions for special operations aircraft and other circumstances, he said.

“After doing the analysis of it, after signing for all the fuel at HKIA and after getting Marines, Air Force fuel guys there to work on that, along with Army guys coming in afterward to get it distributed out, we had plenty of fuel to do the missions,” he said.

Davis highlighted that Harned took on tasks and responsibilities outside his specialty because of his commitment.

“Chief epitomizes what we are about in terms of agile thinking, adaptive on the ground, and not working based on your rank or your MOS, your branch, but working to what the requirements dictate and meeting that, and that's what he did at the embassy,” he said. MOS is military occupational specialty or your current job in the military.

The chief warrant officer, who joined the Army in 1993, said he and his teams moved to the airport Aug. 23 after American diplomatic operations ceased at the embassy. One of the challenges at the airport was that there were plenty of combat arms Soldiers, but fewer sustainment Soldiers because many of those jobs had been handled by contractors.

“We had the contractors in the beginning, but when things started happening, contractors have teams which all left; that's what they should do,” Harned said. “We didn’t have enough sustainers in there to do the sustainment piece that we needed to. We had a [Chief Warrant Officer 4] driving water trucks, fuel trucks. On gas, we had a full bird colonel… trucks forklifts, a lieutenant colonel driving them because that's all we had, but we banded together, and we got the mission done without too many issues.”

Harned said he and his team focused on sustaining basic life support for military and civilian personnel working the U.S. mission at the airport, in addition to supporting the tens of thousands of Afghan civilians who were transitioning through the airport.

"In so many ways, and it wasn't just, again, within his skillset of fuel. It was well beyond that. Whether it was carrying mail for the postal team or just being this sustainment POC on the ground and getting information back to Col. Kolo, he was it," Davis said.