405th AFSB helps Soldiers prepare for battle
April 18, 2008
Preparations for war are in full swing in Bamberg, Germany, as several units prepare for upcoming deployments to the Southwest Asia theater of operations. The 405th Army Field Support Brigade is supporting them and other units in the European theater with the brigade's Left Behind Equipment program.
The LBE program is designed to care for a unit's equipment while the unit is deployed. The program covers all aspects of a unit's materiel, including vehicles and Basic Initial Inventory such as fire extinguishers.
While the unit is deployed, the equipment may be issued to other units, but each unit will receive replacement pieces when it returns from theater. Because the equipment may be issued to another unit, exact inventory records are crucial in order for the returning unit to receive the same types and pieces of equipment that it leaves behind.
The LBE program is designed to provide units returning to Europe with 10/20 standard equipment, ensuring the units are fully mission capable.
"We leave a lot of equipment behind because we just won't need it when we're down range," said Maj. Kevin Balisky, executive officer for the 54th Engineer Battalion, which is headquartered in Bamberg. "We will be falling-in on equipment that is being left downrange, so there is no need for us to take everything we have."
"The LBE program is great because its designed to maintain our equipment while we are gone," Balisky continued. "We don't want to have to go through weeks of reaching our modified table of organization and equipment when we return. We want everything maintained for us and ready to go when we get back."
As the program manager for LBE, the 405th AFSB handles everything related to materiel management on behalf of the unit during its absence.
"It's an excruciatingly detailed operation," said Capt. Mike Kistler, who represented the 405th during LBE operations at Bamberg. "Each piece of equipment has to be counted and inventoried, including the knives, forks and spoons that the cooks use in the field. We'll be responsible for taking care of everything for them while they're gone, and we don't want them to worry about whether or not equipment is being maintained."
While the LBE program is expansive, not every piece of unit equipment is put into the program.
"Although most of our equipment is being put into the program, we have one company staying behind when we deploy," explained Capt. Dax Pummill, commander of the 54th Engineer Battalion's Headquarters Support Company. "We are going to laterally transfer some materiel to ensure that our dedicated equipment stays with the unit instead of being potentially issued to another Army unit."
Even with the large amounts of equipment being handled, the LBE inventory program is designed to be quick and efficient. The LBE inventory for the 54th Engineer Battalion was initially scheduled to last four weeks but was completed in just two weeks, due to a consolidated effort by the unit, the 405th AFSB and the Honeywell contractors who are supporting the 405th AFSB.
"For the 54th Engineer Battalion, we've inventoried more than 1,000 pieces of equipment, including BII," said Mike Hansen, a Honeywell contractor who was temporarily working at the Bamberg operations site. "We've inventoried everything from vehicles and tents to shovels and screwdrivers. We have to be sure that we have a perfect count of the items that are going into the program."
In addition to performing all required maintenance on equipment, the LBE program is also designed to fill potential shortages.
"If any equipment goes into the LBE program with shortages, we receive documentation," Hansen explained. "As part of the LBE program, we are responsible for replacing the missing items so that the equipment is completely stocked when the unit returns."
The U.S. Army Materiel Command, the command headquarters for the 405th AFSB, is responsible for all U.S. Army LBE programs, including operations in Hawaii, Alaska, Korea and Europe.
By taking care of European-based units' equipment during deployments, the 405th AFSB alleviates the stress involved with materiel management while a unit prepares for departure. Additionally, post-deployment, the rear detachment can focus on family support and assisting the Soldiers downrange instead of maintaining the unit's equipment.
"(The 405th AFSB team) is doing a great job," Balisky said. "I have no idea what we would do with all this stuff if the LBE program wasn't around. It's a tremendous help for those of us who are getting ready to go."