CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait -- The 401st Army Field Support Brigade issued the first combat configured equipment set from Army Prepositioned Stocks-5 to the 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division here, May 9-20.
It marked the first time a fully combat configured equipment set was issued from APS-5 since the transition from Care of Supplies in Storage (COSIS) to combat configuration began in 2017.
"It's important that we're able to provide a forward unit with a ready set of equipment," said Col. Carmelia Scott-Skillern, commander, 401st AFSB.
"What's equally important is that this process validates the combat configuration concept," she said. "It also puts a light on the things we can further improve and how we can best get after fine-tuning our processes."
A total of 2,222 pieces of equipment were issued from APS-5 in the form of a Combined Arms Battalion (CAB) and Forward Support Company.
"Configuring this equipment for combat has improved the issue process tremendously," Scott-Skillern said. "All of the Soldier technologies are already installed on the platforms so the gaining tactical unit can generate combat power much more quickly."
A vehicle that is combat configured includes all of its corresponding basic issue items, combat enablers, and Soldier technologies mounted on and inside the vehicle. The vehicle also contains high performance fluids and receives more frequent routine maintenance.
As a result, APS-5 vehicles are maintained at a higher state of readiness and require less movement and fewer man hours throughout the process of issuing large equipment sets to gaining tactical units.
"Having APS-5 equipment sets in such a high state of readiness helps us better project power," Scott-Skillern said. "We're demonstrating capabilities that help the Combatant Commander leverage a ready set of equipment in support of the entire U.S. Central Command area of responsibility."
There were only a few minor maintenance problems during the issue process, primarily in the form of outer hub seal leaks and software errors on the M1A2 Abrams Tanks.
The Army Field Support Battalion-Kuwait maintenance experts and URS contracted maintenance support were able to fix the problems quickly on site, resulting in 100 percent fulfillment of the CAB requirement.
When a fault on a vehicle is identified during the issue process, the contracted maintenance teams attempt to fix the fault within two hours. If a repair can't be made within two hours, the vehicle is replaced with another of the same platform.
The 401st AFSB conducted a rapid issue exercise with the 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment in January, 2018, which allowed both units to take away some lessons learned and contributed to the success of the real world issue, said Scott-Skillern.
"2/1 AD was very proactive and engaged in this whole process -- from the early planning phases up through the actual issue," Scott-Skillern said. "They came prepared and ready to work with smart Soldiers and outstanding leaders. They've truly been partners, and together we're increasing readiness in the region."
During the rapid issue exercise conducted in January, both units identified shortfalls in familiarity with the certain parts of the technical manuals.
The TMs associated with Army vehicle platforms can contain in excess of 1,000 pages and cover every aspect of that platform. The AFSBn-Kuwait provided excerpts specific to PMCS processes in an effort to make the issue easier and more efficient for the gaining tactical unit.
"Our Soldiers have really embraced it and they're also learning," said Col. Charles Lombardo, commander, 2nd ABCT, 1st AD.
"They're learning functionalities by the TM -- how to properly stow, how to conduct inventories -- so it's absolutely a readiness repetition for us," Lombardo said. "The more we exercise the APS, and reset them correctly, it's a better repetition for the rotation. It allows the Soldiers to draw and inventory and work the core competencies, Command Supply Discipline and maintenance."
The CAB issued to 2/1 AD is slated to get passed on to the next ABCT that rotates in to replace 2/1 AD.
"The biggest victory, I think, out of all of this is you're going to have a new brigade combat team come into theater and there will be no gap in coverage," Lombardo said. "The ready reaction forces will be ready to go and there will be no capability drop. That's hard to do. Rotating units usually takes time, so the opportunity to draw the APS-5 fleet, preposition it and have it ready is a big win for ARCENT."
APS-5 is managed and maintained by the AFSBn-Kuwait, and contains multiple brigade equipment sets, support element sets, and a watercraft set.