OEF Property Accountability for Off-Ramp Units: Command Emphasis and Early Planning
September 14, 2012
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan--Looking back at lessons learned from Desert Storm, the Iraq drawdown effort focused on being responsible, which meant leaving the host nation country and occupied battlefield just as good as or better off than we found it. As the Army reduces its footprint in Afghanistan, logisticians have to take it one step farther and execute not only responsible operations but accountable drawdown operations. Being better stewards of defense funds is not only the right thing to do, but also has current and future impacts. Equipment casually discarded or not accounted for properly today could be hard to replace for the next mission. Leaders need to think that taking care of supplies and equipment is indirectly taking care of Soldiers. Executing a smooth responsible off-ramp and redeployment operation takes an enormous concerted effort with forged partnerships among a supported task force, the sustainment brigade, the regional Army Field Support Battalion, and U.S. Army Materiel Command's Life Cycle Management Commands.
The entire ball starts rolling at the unit level. Processes continually improve based on ten years of lessons learned in both Afghanistan and Iraq, but the task force or unit needs to address two of the most critical but simple lessons learned that affect the process the most. These lessons are command emphasis and starting early in the deployment. These concepts must be reinforced and pushed down through the ranks by every leader at every level to affect successful property turn-in missions. The theater operational and strategic logistics unit, the 401st Army Field Support Brigade (AFSB), receives, retrogrades, resets, repairs, reissues or stores excess property. Their help is available to bridge the strategic and tactical gaps so plan for and request assistance early.
THE EQUIPMENT TURN-IN PROCESS
The Theater Provided Equipment disposition decision process has been streamlined over time and now decisions are returned fairly quickly. The routing flow checks requirements across the task force (BCT-Level), the regional command (Division Level), country (Corps-Level), Theater (Army-Level), and finally USAMC LCMCs (Wholesale). From the unit perspective, however, there are only five things things they need to do to clear a Theater Provided Equipment hand receipt as shown below.
1. Request disposition through TPE planner and prepare paperwork (DD 1348s, DA 2062 annexes, DA 2404s).
2. Add equipment to organizational property book or set up turn-in or lateral transfer appointment with gaining organization.
3. Coordinate transportation through BSB SPO (may be directed at the end of deployment).
4. Execute a lateral transfer.
5. Turn in to the AFSB.
Although these seem straight forward, units historically have issues with the paperwork portion of step 1 that affects the remaining steps. The units that are successful complete their paperwork early and check it against both their physical equipment serial numbers and property book serial numbers, and get it checked again by TPE personnel prior to turn-in day. This system of checks and balances will ensure a smooth and fast turn-in. Units can also request disposition in TPE planner a few months in advance to forecast when it will be excess to prevent last minute show stoppers due to pending dispositions.
LOGISTICS ENABLERS AVAILABLE
The mantra "always take the hard right over the easy wrong" is engrained in the Army culture, and as leaders, we strive to make the right easier especially in the realm of expendable, durable equipment, and repair parts. For example, when there are piles of durables or repair parts found, these items are supposed to be brought to record at the supporting Supply Support Activity; however, SSAs are not staffed to handle this enormous workload from years of stockpiling. The time it takes away from other unit missions can make this option a hard right in some cases, where units just ignore it or let it pile up behind a T-wall. There are enablers created out of necessity to handle some of these issues and make the process easier. A Mobile Redistribution Property Assistance Team, a Mobile Redistribution Team, a 4-corners operation, or the retrosort yard can handle found on installation supplies and repair parts and relieve the burden on units. The following enablers are available and should be written into base operational plans and orders. Planning ahead, executing early, and incorporating systems of checks and balances are the keys to success. These enablers are briefly listed below with descriptions on how they can assist.
LOGSA forward training teams: Teams of trainers that can visit your areas and provide Army Reset Management Tool training, TPE planner training, LIW training, ARFORGEN concepts briefings, and can assist units with any issues they may have following training.
Brigade Logistics Support Team: AMC team aligned to support a single brigade combat team where ever that unit operates and other units within their areas of operation. Provides training, troubleshooting, supply, and transportation assistance. Executes national level reach back to resolve tactical and operational logistics-related problems that affect unit and/or materiel readiness. The BLST can assist in coordinating all the enablers listed herein and also provides equipment condition verifications for turn-in paperwork and coordinate with LCMC Program Managers for disposition on PM managed equipment support and disposition. May have ammunition QASAS or LARs on team or can coordinate one from the LSE as required.
Logistics Support Element: AMC element aligned to support a regional command. Provides training, troubleshooting, supply, and transportation assistance. Executes national level reach back to resolve tactical and operational logistics-related problems that affect unit and/or materiel readiness. Like the BLST but larger, the LSE can assist in coordinating all the enablers listed herein and also provides equipment condition verifications for turn-in paperwork and coordinate with LCMC Program Managers for disposition on PM managed equipment support and disposition. Also provides support to the forward BLSTs when additional capabilities or equipment experts are required. Coordinate LSE support through supporting BLST or directly when no BLST is assigned.
Logistics Task Force: AMC modular task force established at larger FOBs that provide regional support away from major regional bases and hubs. The LTF is task organized to support equipment densities in the area but may command and control an RPAT, a CECOM Regional Sustainment Center (RSC) or Electronic Sustainment Support Center (ESSC), contract maintenance, and LOGCAP contracting oversight.
Redistribution Property Assistance Teams: RPATs have LCMC, Program Manager representatives, TPE property book Responsible Officers, and contractors. Ran by 401st AFSB and provides a one stop shop to turn in excess property and clear your TPE hand receipts and property book. RPATs mostly handle class VII items but can work with units, MRTs and the Retrsort yards to accept limited quantities of class II and IX found or excess items. RPATs then transfer equipment from retail level property books to the wholesale Army War Reserve Deployment System and process equipment for shipping to Reset facilities worldwide.
Mobile Redistribution Property Assistance Teams: Perform the same function as RPATs but will come out to unit areas for early mass turn-in operations without burdening other unit missions. This is also a great opportunity to have all turn-in paperwork checked prior to executing final RPAT operations.
Mobile Redistribution Teams: MRTs is a traveling team that goes to out to the unit's location to take care of any supply that is not class V, VII, or VIII. They identify, classify, sort and inventory supplies and equipment then either ship it back to the Retrosort yard to establish accountability or to DLA-DS for disposal.
4-Corners operations: one stop shop for vehicles to de-process before going to the RPAT or Ready For Issue yards. Used to download and sort all classes of supply, quick removal of trash, and zero out all sensitive COMSEC. Coordinated through RC-J4 and ran by sustainment brigade. Established and set up as needed for major off ramp operations.
Mobile Container Accountability Teams: mobile team that comes to your location to identify, inventory, and process containers to bring to record for tracking ownership and/or retrograde. These teams are coordinated through supporting regional sustainment brigade.
Retrosort yard: The sustainment brigades operate retrosort yards that receive bulk serviceable supplies and repair parts previously issued to units but serviceable or repairable. They then identify, classify, and bring to record these items that can again be supplied through normal supply support activity channels.
Defense Logistics Agency: Disposition Services: Formerly known as the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service, they provide disposal management solutions that are fiscally responsible. This can be resale of obsolete or unserviceable supplies and equipment or demil and process the sale of scrap metal.
SUMMARY CHECKLIST: "GIVE A SOLDIER A CHECKLIST AND HE CAN ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING!"
Here is a brief checklist of things to plan and execute to enable successful off-ramping operations. Standard Operating Procedures for these enabler organizations may differ based on individual or regional sites. If support organizations do not readily have simple checklist, create them and test it during rehearsal of concept drills, and low production test runs. A checklist for 4 corners, RPAT, and RFI yards to assist with procedures and required paperwork would help significantly.
1. Execute LOGSA pre-deployment ARMT and TPE Planner training at home station -- ensure supply sergeants not just Reset officers.
2. Plan MCATs upon arrival at your AO to get ahead of container issues.
3. Ensure physical serial numbers match PBUSE -- big issue that always affects Reset ARI and final TPE turn-in.
4. Coordinate for JMC munitions LAR to conduct ASP/AHA certifications and assist with identifying, packing and shipping excess ammunition.
5. Coordinate MRTs to come to your locations at least twice during your deployment.
6. Complete LOGSA forward TPE planner refresher training.
7. Enter "all" TPE items into TPE planner at least three months before redeployment. This helps plan for MRPATs and starts the paperwork preparation process. You can work with LOGSA to schedule your training at this time so they can assist with your real items instead of it being only a training scenario.
8. Coordinate MRPATs to be at your areas 30-45 days prior to starting the redeployment movement. Publish MRPAT order at least 90 days prior to mission execution.
9. Have all TPE turn-in paperwork prepared and checked by MRPAT personnel. This will save time later and may address FLIPL issues well before a commander is ready to depart theater.
10. Process all DLA-DS equipment on separate earlier missions before the main pushes.
11. Conduct 4-corners, RPAT and RFI yard rehearsals down to the convoy level. This makes C2 and operations of individual serials go much smoother.