CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait -- Modern, functional equipment that is readily available is essential to ensuring the success of Army missions, which is why Army Prepositioned Stocks (APS) warehouses are so important. U.S. Central Command Commanding General, Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel, reiterated the importance of APS locations during a tour of APS -- 5 managed by the 401st Army Field Support Brigade at Camp Arifjan on June 3.
"The APS, along with sister programs in the other services, provides us a powerful and ready stock of equipment sets," Votel said. "This flexibility is critical to staying ahead of a developing situation and is a crucial part of our planning process."
The tour took place in a facility that houses equipment from APS-5's Armored Brigade Combat Team set, and included a static display of recently updated Soldier technologies and combat equipment enablers.
"With the rise of potential near-peer competitors on the world stage, it is more important than ever to look at our capabilities and how they stack up," Votel said. "Not only is it essential that the equipment here is cutting edge, we continuously look at how we can improve our processes for ordering, maintaining and managing this critical asset."
Modernization of APS-5 equipment is a continuous effort that has been evolving since the first fielding of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles.
For example, MaxxPro MRAP vehicles now have increased protection capability that will protect a gunner in case of a rollover. They also have electronic stability control, which allows Soldiers to keep control of the vehicle on the road and helps keep Soldiers safe inside the vehicle during a rollover event -- vast improvements over the first generation of MaxxPros.
"As a combatant commander, that's what I really appreciate about this set," Votel said. "It evolves and it allows me to better create and assess my plans throughout the CENTCOM area of operation."
The massive APS-5 site includes several equipment sets for different types of units -- an Armored Brigade Combat Team set, an Infantry Brigade Combat Team set, a Sustainment Brigade set, a Fires Brigade set, a Medical Support Element set, and an Army Watercraft set, totaling more than $5.5 billion worth of equipment.
"Because it is large, because it is diverse, because it affords us so many combinations of equipment and configurations," Votel said, "it really gives us the widest ability to respond to a great range of fast breaking and complex situations that emerge across the CENTCOM area of responsibility."
The Armed Brigade Combat Team set located at APS-5 boasts a current readiness rate above 90 percent in terms of being mission capable, according to Col. Aaron Stanek, 401st AFSB Commander.
"Overall, we want this equipment to be ready to issue," Stanek said. "We want to continue to increase the speed of issue and we want it to be ready to fight. It absolutely makes a difference, being able to speed up our response to counter and stay ahead of what our enemies are doing."
The speed of issue from APS-5, often cited by logistics commanders as a leading priority, has increased during the last 11 months under Stanek's command.
For example, in February 2017, the Army Field Support Battalion-Kuwait activated and issued 26 vehicles to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division in a span of only three days -- a process that previously would have taken two to three weeks.
"We need to continue to be vigilant on reset and modernization of APS-5 equipment and infrastructure," Stanek said. "We're interested in rapid response to extend operational reach and freedom of action to the combatant commander and the operational commanders on the ground."
Part of the increased readiness levels of APS-5 sets is attributed to the addition of nine new warehouses that opened in November, 2016, which house an additional 20 percent of APS-5's combat equipment and eliminate thousands of hours in repairs and millions of dollars in parts, with a projected $60 million saved over the course of four years.
Together, the new facilities provide 576,000 square feet of useable space and are all equipped with climate and humidity control, energy efficient LED lighting, ventilation systems for carbon monoxide, and powerful fire suppression systems, all of which can be controlled by a warehouse manager from a central point.
It is estimated that another 1.2 million square feet of warehouse space is still needed to get the entirety of APS-5 into climate controlled storage conditions.
"The work of our AFSB-Kuwait Soldiers and Army civilians, and our contracted support teammates has been excellent in terms of physically managing, maintaining, and issuing equipment of this magnitude," Stanek said.
"I'm always amazed at how loyal and committed to the mission and to the country that the Soldiers and Army civilians are," he said. "They do wonderful things. Every mission that we've been given, they've been able to figure it out and provide the support that's required."
As the tour ended, Votel thanked and presented coins to 401st AFSB personnel who contributed to making his APS-5 tour a success.
"It's great to be here, to see and appreciate the work that these wonderful Americans do for us on a day to day basis," Votel said. "My recognition of their hard work is an important way for me to close the loop and express appreciation for their efforts, which provide me with incredible flexibility."