277th Service Support Activity supplies parts to keep Task Force Falcon moving
May 20, 2009
- 277th Aviation Support Battalion's Service Support Activity orders, issues and stores all supplies for the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade
- COB Speicher SSA has the shortest customer wait time in theater
- Soldiers receive and send out 80,000 parts each month, while keeeping another 80,000 - almost $70 million worth - on hand
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq - As the supply distribution hub for Task Force Falcon, Alpha Company, 277th Aviation Support Battalion's Service Support Activity is responsible for ordering, storing and issuing all the supplies that go into running day-to-day aviation operations.
With depots on COB Speicher and Forward Operating Base Sykes, the Soldiers and civilians of the SSA work around the clock to provide everything from helicopters and HUMVEES to pens and printer paper across the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, setting the standard for Service Support Activity in Iraq.
"Both multi-class SSAs at Speicher and Sykes have consistently run in the top three of all SSAs in Multi National Corps-Iraq, with Speicher ranked number one across all measurable aspects of SSA performance," said Lt. Col. Garner Pogue, 277th ASB commander. "The Speicher SSA has received, stored and issued more than 750,000 items across all classes of supply in just these last six months, and the Sykes SSA has done the same with more than 250,000 items - and only eight Soldiers serving at that location."
With more than 100 customers and a daily workload average of 600 supply requests and 1,000 - 2,500 parts to process, "It can get pretty busy," admitted Chief Warrant Officer 2 Abel Vega, COB Speicher SSA accountability officer.
"But, for the last six months, we have had the best customer wait time in theater," Vega said. "My customer's average wait time is eight days, while the theater average is 10 days."
Vega attributes the unit's success to his Soldiers' hard work and dedication. With 80,000 items on hand, and another 80,000 parts rotating in and out of the SSA warehouse each month, the 23 Soldiers of the COB Speicher SSA have their hands full keeping things running smoothly.
To effectively handle the huge task of supplying the CAB with "everything from hundred-thousand dollar repair parts to paper towels," as Pogue put it, the SSA is divided into five sections: receiving, issue, turn-in, storage and stock control.
"The receiving section gets all the parts, inputs them into the computer, which tells them where each item is going - to a customer or to storage - and then they sort it out," Vega explained. "Then we have the issue section, which takes the parts going to customers from receiving, sorts them out and issues them."
While most units send their supply representatives to the warehouse to pick up parts, the COB Speicher issuing section offers an option unique among SSAs - they deliver requisitioned items to their customers around the base twice a day.
"The platoon has logged thousands of miles delivering to each motor pool, Aviation Unit Maintenance Company, and company supply room within the CAB," said Pogue. "This push allows our supported units to stay focused on their tasks, and eliminates the time required to drive to the SSA to pick up their supplies."
The turn-in section handles what Vega calls "reverse logistics."
"About 75 percent of aircraft parts can be repaired, including blades and engines," Vega explained. "So when I issue out a new part, the customer gives me the bad part, which we take and send back for repair."
The storage section has the seemingly daunting task of sorting, storing and maintaining accountability of the roughly $70 million worth of supplies the Speicher depot keeps on hand.
"We keep about 80,000 parts here based on historical demand," Vega said, explaining that 90 percent of the supply requests they see are for the same items over and over again. By keeping a large supply of the most-requested parts in-stock, it reduces the customer's wait time even further.
"The last section is stock control," Vega said. "They're like the customer service section - if the customers have any questions, they talk to stock control."
The stock control personnel are also responsible for finding the supplies needed to fill the requests that never stop coming in.
"When a supply request comes in, the first thing we do is look to see if we have it on hand," Vega explained. "If we don't have it here, we next look in all of Iraq and Afghanistan, to see if another SSA has it on hand. If we find the part in theater, we get it there; if we don't find it, we send the request to the wholesaler, who will either have the part on hand in the United States, or will find a vendor, manufacturer or contractor to buy it from."
Vega said working in the SSA keeps him on his toes, because each day is a new challenge.
"Everyday is a different priority - today could be the CH-47, tomorrow could be the Blackhawk," he said. "When I come in the morning, I never know what the priority will be today. Maybe a hail storm happened last night, and so when I come in, a customer needs 24 rotor blades. I need to get that quick, because they need to fly."
That sense of urgency is not lost on the Soldiers who work for the SSA - in fact, it keeps them motivated and their spirits high, said Pfc. Pamela Ramos, who works in the issuing section.
"If the customers don't get the parts they need, everybody's not moving - the aircraft aren't flying, and there would be no point in the Brigade being here," Ramos said. "So even thought we have one of the busiest jobs here, morale is pretty high because we all know we're doing important things."
Spc. Zachary Wedgeworth, from receiving, agreed.
"It's pretty important," Wedgeworth said of the Service Support Activity's role in operations here. "If someone needs a part, that means an aircraft is down when they might need to go out on mission. If there are Soldiers that are out somewhere and need to be picked up, but they can't because the helicopter is waiting on a part...we have a direct impact on operations here in Iraq, big-time."