By Jon Micheal Connor, ASC Public AffairsSeptember 2, 2016
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Located in southeastern North Carolina is one of the Army's premier power projection platforms -- Fort Bragg.
It's home to the 82nd Airborne Division, 18th Airborne Corps, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, U.S. Forces Command, U.S. Army Reserve Command and Womack Army Medical Center. Established in 1918 as a field artillery training area, the fort is named after Braxton Bragg, a Confederate general.
It's also where Logistics Readiness Center-Bragg carries out the base operations logistics support necessary to keep this installation of 14 major commands running. Located on nearly 161,000 acres spread over four counties, its responsibilities of support include the entire state of North Carolina and 15 counties in Virginia.
The people of LRC-Bragg take great pride in supporting combatant commanders for no-notice worldwide deployments by air, sea and land. Overall, it supports a force equating to 32 brigade- sized elements.
"What I try to do is be the visionary for the LRC and look forward from years of experience," said LRC-Bragg Director Robert Franks. "I know where the pitfalls are in logistical support and the key thing is anticipation of a logistics requirement, and then assessing the requirement, and then of course, planning and execution."
Franks said LRC-Bragg emphasizes best practices learned and applies them to supporting the missions in the most efficient, productive way. With a 20 percent growth in customers since 2000, and a significant reduction in logistics personnel, best practices must be incorporated, he said.
"The folks that we do have here, because of the high op-tempo, understand that we don't have much time to waste on a daily basis," Franks said. "So, therefore, when they come to Fort Bragg to work, they know one-tenth of the United States Army is physically stationed here. And because we have the caliber of Soldier that we have here … those Soldiers deserve the best. That is somewhat of an inspiration for those employees to provide the 'Best Support.'"
LRC-Bragg is one of the 70-plus LRCs worldwide that fall under the U.S. Army Sustainment Command whose higher headquarters is the U.S. Army Materiel Command. This LRC reports to the 406th Army Field Support Brigade, also headquartered at Fort Bragg.
A few examples of an average day at the LRC consists of:
-- Issuing and receiving 60,000 pounds of ammunition
-- Issuing and receiving 13,500 gallons of fuel
-- Serving 15,000 meals at 14 dining facilities
-- Processing 725 personal property customers
-- Serving 510 customers in various maintenance shops
-- Repairing or servicing 10 tactical vehicles
-- Repairing/painting six shipping containers
These -- and many other missions -- are possible through the labor provided by 18 major logistics companies contracted to provide 40 services. A highlight of some areas include:
"The main mission is customer service," said Timothy Shea, Installation Transportation officer, LRC-Bragg. "The customer is paramount."
To that end, some of the transportation work centers are open 24/7 and some are on-call in the off-duty hours, he said, always ready to help a customer.
"Transportation is always on the move. There's always something happening," said Shea. "It's always in motion between household goods, commercial airline, SAM [Special Air Mission] aircraft, training, vehicles, convoys, line haul commercial trucks, military missions, motor pool, taking wounded warriors to appointments. It's a multi-faceted movement operation."
The transportation customer numbers speak for themselves.
"Just in fiscal year 2015, we serviced 527,186 customers throughout the transportation division," said Shea.
"Personal property equated to over 50,000 shipments average per year. When you look at commercial travel, actually it's 80,000 tickets we've done for travelers," he said.
Another transportation mission is performed by the Installation Transportation Deployment Support Activity. It supports organizations deploying out of Fort Bragg by conducting inspections for a "safe and effective movement of those units to their final destination," said Gerald Jensen, chief, Unit Movements Branch, LRC-Bragg.
ITDSA personnel process all the documentation, data, execution paperwork, and conduct in-progress reviews prior to releasing a surface-deployment organization for movement, Jensen said. It supports units deploying by surface whether that's by line haul or rail.
Likewise, transportation has the Arrival-Departure Air Control Group, which is a control center for movement missions by air.
"Airborne operations are significantly different than what you can do with surface operations," Jensen said. He explained that there is a "greater degree of concentration of effort" because of inter-service requirements in working with the Air Force. And, besides using military aircraft, civilian aircraft may be used too.
"We have the capability of being able to execute movements of almost any type from our location," said Jensen.
"That process is one in which we have to coordinate with a multitude of different agencies, both higher and lower, as well as with our customer -- the unit -- to make sure that process is done efficiently and effectively, and primarily, safely, because again all these activities are involved," Jensen said.
LRC-Bragg also handles all the personal transportation needs of Fort Bragg and other outlying areas of responsibility including those for ROTC units, the Navy and Marines during exercises. About 1,200 vehicles comprise the fleet, said Abdul Cole, Transportation Motor specialist, LRC-Bragg. This includes buses and 15-passenger vans.
"TMP is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days," Cole said. "We service people that come requesting a vehicle, even the tenant units or from out of state … for exercises. We make sure we support them."
There's even a post shuttle service to get Soldiers, family members, civilians and military retirees around the installation. It grew from the Wounded Warriors program, he said.
"The shuttle is working very well on the installation," Cole said. "A lot of people are using it … we average about a 1,000 or so [people] monthly."
When units from elsewhere come to Bragg requesting vehicles for personal transportation, LRC-Bragg offers its short-term rental program through off-post vendors who bring the vehicles to post for distribution. This way of doing business is cost effective saving the government money, Cole said.
At Pope Army Airfield, there is a shuttle van, a 44-passenger bus, and a 24-passenger bus, to bring back flight crews and possible distinguished visitors for each flight. Upon landing, a vehicle will be dispatched to the scene within an average of eight minutes to transport passengers to the command post and then to a hotel, Cole said.
Because units can receive deployment notification within four to 96 hours, Shea said, being properly resourced is critical in getting people out correctly.
"You need people to take care of people," Shea explained. "So you've got to be properly resourced and manned in order to service customers in a rapid fashion at a place like Fort Bragg."
CLOTHING ISSUE FACILITY
Walking inside the Clothing Issue Facility, one gets the sense of perspective and history from the poster-sized photos adorning the issuing/turn-in area, glass encased exhibits of uniforms and equipment from the past, as well as a video screen built in a wall display featuring Army photographs.
"The reason for all the photos is to let the Soldiers and VIPs see how the Army has evolved from World War II, Vietnam, to the current operations," said Norvelle Patterson, CIF Quality Assurance, LRC-Bragg.
"I've always heard positive feedback in reference to the Fort Bragg CIF video. It gives the Soldier and VIP the capabilities of the Fort Bragg CIF."
He said the locally produced video familiarizes Soldiers with what they'll be issued, and the items they'll be turning in at the end of their tour.
"Once a Soldier comes to Fort Bragg and they get their last official notification of deployment we can get the equipment from Lansing, Michigan, here on Fort Bragg within 10 calendar days," Patterson said. "And that way it enables the Soldier to meet his deployment time."
"We have 14 operational dining facilities that we support here on Fort Bragg with various major commands," said James Ramey, Food Program manager, LRC-Bragg. "We feed approximately 3.4 million customers annually."
Ten of the DFACs are military-operated.
"We provide contract dining facility attendants in there that do the cleaning," Ramey said of the LRC's role.
The other four DFACs have contracts through LRC-Bragg to provide cooking and cleaning.
"You know our vision here with food service is a united front," Ramey said. "We provide oversight for five separate food-service oriented contracts."
Ramey also explained that Fort Bragg is a test bed for Army food service. The Army has the "Go for Green" program. This program incorporates a food labeling system using colors that indicate to customers the nutrition value of different foods to make choices in one's diet regarding health and disease prevention.
Fort Bragg also has the Health Base Initiative Program uniting food service personnel with nutritionists at Womack Army Medical Center who together enhance the "Go for Green" program.
Along with the interest in nutritional food is the interest in customer concerns.
"We really encourage interaction between the dining facility managers and the customers," said Ramey. "That's a good way to get feedback from the customers and see what they want on the menus. In essence, you'll get them back returning to your facilities."
MATERIEL MAINTENANCE DIVISION
The Materiel Maintenance Division is responsible for the readiness of Fort Bragg and for providing units the capabilities they do not possess -- a body shop, paint shop, wood shop, machine shop, and sustainment-level maintenance on certain engines and transmissions, said Joseph Karmazyn, chief, MMD, LRC-Bragg.
There is a maintenance shop at Bragg's Pope Airfield that supports the ground equipment that supports the aircraft.
"We really respect what our Soldiers do today as they go in harm's way for us," Karmazyn said. "So what we can do for their equipment is to make sure that equipment is serviced the right way so it takes them through that deployment and back.
"So when something comes into our shop, we don't just fix what is apparently broken, we'll give it a thorough inspection to make sure that the vehicle is sound when they take it out," Karmazyn said.
MMD also has two mobile weapons/night vision "On the Move" trailers.
The trailers are equipped with special tools for all levels of maintenance including weapon-gauging, night vision, and a complete stock of repair parts for specific missions. The trailers are a combat multiplier, having saved thousands of dollars and significantly improving readiness, he said.
"They're equipped with generators so we have our own power, air compressors … it has air conditioning, heating, so it's self-sustaining … we can also support ranges," said Karmazyn.
The need for these innovative trailers began during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) as MMD was at its operational limit as a result of two wars. The trailers freed up main shop capacity and pushed repairs forward, Karmazyn said.
He defined capacity as conducting repairs without having to store the equipment in need of service or repair at MMD while waiting for supply parts.
Units love them because Soldiers don't have to transport personal weapons across post with a guard detail since the weapons stay at the unit. On average, repairs take three days for a battalion, Karmazyn said.
One day that people stationed at Fort Bragg will never forget is April 16, 2011.
On that Saturday, waves of tornadoes wreaked havoc in the South and the Fort Bragg area. The storm destroyed buildings on- and off-post, including those used by LRC-Bragg. For many employees, it was an ongoing nightmare of addressing the damage affecting them at Fort Bragg, and then getting off work to deal with a destroyed or damaged home. The storm killed nearly two dozen people in North Carolina but no one in the LRC or on the post.
New structures were built to replace destroyed buildings. According to LRC director Franks, the post incurred approximately $60 million in damage.
Franks recalls that while his people were going through an extremely difficult period, they were also determined to carry on with the important missions of Fort Bragg.
"It's all about priorities ... helping them identify their personal needs and to take care of their families, allowing them to that," said Franks. "The rest of the folks that weren't affected personally at home, being able to cover for those individuals and put an extra effort forth which everybody did here.
"Within just a couple days of the storm we re-established our food operations here that were devastated and our maintenance operations … we moved 23 times to different vacant facilities," Franks said. "As Soldiers deployed and returned we had to vacate [their premises] and relocate. But we did that because the employee knew it was important and we had a mission to perform."
After six weeks, progression was evident, and things were slowly getting back to a normal type of support, but in a mobile way versus fixed facilities, he said. After four years, LRC-Bragg was finally back into its last rebuilt facility.
"It was total destruction basically," Karmazyn said of the maintenance building. "There was not one vehicle that was usable. The internal shops were completely demolished."
Karmazyn estimated there was about $30 million worth of MMD property, vehicles, tools and equipment destroyed or lost.
MMD worked out of deployed units' motor pools, continued taking work orders and supported the units in the rear as best as possible, he said. Work was also contracted to meet the needs of the customers without a degradation in services.
As deadly and devastating as the tornado was, it did result in a newly improved maintenance building bringing everything up to code, Karmazyn said, meaning a mass notification fire system, brighter lighting, new ventilation system, new air compressors, and new paint capabilities.
"We relocated to another site and we were up and running after 48 hours," said Ramey, explaining the existing supply-subsistence management warehouse and office was devastated.
The new Subsistence Supply Maintenance Office and warehouse now has a 100-seat classroom where ongoing training such as food handler certification and food service manager workshops are conducted.
It stores 300,000 Meals, Ready to Eat and stocks 80,000 unitized stock rations with various other Class 1 subsistence items. It also has two wire-guided forklift systems, LED lighting throughout the facility, and skylights to capture natural lighting.
"This LRC is one of the largest LRCs in the United States Army with a very critical mission," said Franks. "And that is to provide the best logistical support that we can to one-tenth of the United States Army's elite Soldiers that are here. The Soldiers -- here more than any place else --have a very short timeline to deploy.
"This is a happening place and if you really want to get a good experience of what the Army's like from the big picture, come here, because we have the global response force and all the elite forces that literally will give you a good idea of the caliber of Soldier and civilians that make up the United States Army of today."