KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- German Brig. Gen. Markus Laubenthal, the first non-American U.S. Army Europe chief of staff, visited the Army Oil Analysis Program-Laboratory (AOAP), here, Jan. 22.

AOAP is a Department of Defense program that detects impending equipment component failures and determines lubricant conditions through on-line and laboratory evaluations of oil samples.

The AOAP Laboratory-Europe provides commanders in Europe, Africa and Southwest Asia oil analysis capabilities at the Kaiserslautern Army Depot. The lab's primary mission is to accept oil samples from both aircraft and ground-based vehicles and analyze them for flaws and inconsistencies. After receipt of the samples, the lab has 24 hours to analyze and report back to aviation-unit commanders and 72 hours to ground-unit commanders.

"I am amazed at the amount of work and scientific expertise that goes in to ensuring flight safety, equipment readiness and the work ethic of the employees at the laboratory," Laubenthal said.

Marty Utzig, operations deputy, 405th Army Field Support Brigade, joined Laubenthal for the visit.

"The AOAP lab offers units an opportunity to have its equipment's oils and other fluids tested with some of the most technologically advanced tools available, thus enhancing the ability to make sound, proactive and cost effective maintenance decisions. I do not know why anyone would not take advantage of this capability," Utzig said.

Heidrun Bodeit, laboratory director, along with her team, walked Laubenthal and Utzig through the process of extracting the oil sample, inspecting by microscope, and electrically testing for impurities.

"It is a relatively quick process to sample the lubricants in a piece of equipment, and that action can save hours of maintenance downtime through early detection of problems like faulty air-induction systems, leaking cooling systems, loose crossover lubricant lines, and abnormal wear rates of moving metal parts," said Dr. Davoud Tehranfar, an AOAP scientist.

"I was amazed at the quick and efficient way of testing samples and keeping our force ready," Laubenthal said.