LIVORNO, Italy -- More than 3,000 brand new, mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles arrived in the past months to the port of Livorno to be maintained and stored at Leghorn Army Depot.

Positioning such vehicles here is a contributing factor in making Italy's Leghorn Army Depot one of the larger European storage areas in support of U.S. military and NATO operations within theater.

The first batch of vehicles arrived at the port in October and, by November, close to 2,500 MRAPs and multipurpose all-terrain (MATV) vehicles were convoyed, via commercial truck, to the depot.

"Once the vehicles get here, they are inspected for compliance to Army maintenance standards. Then once in compliance, they are stored for up to 48 month in the local warehouses," explained Gary Marquez, deputy to the commander, 405th Army Field Support Battalion, U.S. Army Africa.

Though this process may sound quite simple, it actually requires expertise and care.

"Each vehicle is checked and assembled with all the government furnished equipment such as radios, antennas and the set of basic-issued items (BII) before they are declared ready for issue. After this inspection they only require monthly surveillance inspections," said Michele Panico, superviser and logistics management specialist at 405th.

The vehicles are then stored and maintained in preparation of worldwide issue to Department of Defense agencies.

"Leghorn Army Depot has a tremendous capability to perform this type of mission," said Marquez. "The logistical aspect of this hub is unique-- the vicinity to the railroad that actually comes into the depot area, the autostrada, the port and the airport make this location the ideal 'south of the Alps' site for a power projection platform."