CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait -- Secretary of the Army Mark T. Esper toured an Army Prepositioned Stocks-5 warehouse managed by the 401st Army Field Support Brigade here, June 21.
"It's always good to get out of the Pentagon, come out and find out what is really happening on the ground," Esper said. "I just get a lot of good feedback that I can take back to Washington D.C. that we can then weigh out in regard to policy changes, process changes or other things that really require attention."
Esper got the opportunity to get a close look at the materiel readiness within APS-5, and talk about his overall Army vision for modernization.
"We have to modernize what we have now," Esper said. "Much of it, while it has been upgraded over the years, it is still the force that entered the Army when I entered the Army in the 1980s."
The Army's six modernization priorities include long-range precision fires, next generation of combat-vehicles, future vertical lift platforms, Army network, air and missile defense capabilities, and Soldier lethality.
"We are in the process of doing that now with regard to our research and development, our prototyping and, in some cases, the early procurements we are starting to make based on the six Army modernization priorities," Esper said.
"The challenge for Army Materiel Command is to make sure that we can sustain high operational readiness rates," he said. "That we can get the industrial base cranked up again to supply those long needed items and I know that that is a priority for us in D.C., and that's a priority for AMC to make sure that we can maintain these units and make sure we sustain their readiness."
Esper spoke with 401st Army Field Support Brigade leadership about how the brigade is currently modernizing its processes to increase readiness of combat equipment and effectiveness of forward combat power.
"How we operationalize this equipment is just as important as the equipment, itself," said. Lt. Col. Christopher Garvin, commander, Army Field Support Battalion-Kuwait. "We're modernizing our processes so we can increase lethality and how quickly we can move that forward."
The 401st Army Field Support Brigade transitioned APS-5's armored brigade combat team equipment set from Care of Supplies in Storage (COSIS), or "cold storage," to a configured for combat posture during the last year, resulting in a more effective process to rapidly deliver combat power to the warfighter.
"The way we have APS-5's armored brigade combat team set configured for combat speeds up the assembly process and decreases the amount of time that the gaining tactical unit has to spend installing and calibrating Soldier technologies on the vehicles," Garvin said.
The process of taking a vehicle from COSIS and preparing it for issue to a gaining tactical unit required 48 different steps. Under the new Configured for Combat posture, there are only 17 steps required to prepare a vehicle for issue because the vehicles are constantly maintained at a higher level of readiness.
More frequent maintenance, testing and exercise of the vehicles, and having all of the advanced systems and technologies mounted on the vehicles before they are issued increases confidence in mission capability for both the 401st Army Field Support Brigade and the end user, said Garvin.
"The Soldier technologies that we're putting on our combat platforms, I believe, are the best technologies that we have to take care of our Soldiers," Garvin said. "I can sleep better at night knowing we've already installed and thoroughly tested every combat enabler and we know it's fit to fight before we put it in the warfighter's hands."
The APS-5 tour ended at a remote staging lot, where recently issued vehicles from APS-5's ABCT equipment set were being staged for transport to another location.
During his visit to Camp Arifjan, Esper also engaged with Soldiers of all ranks from several different units and participated in a Physical Readiness Training session with Soldiers from the 49th Theater Gateway Company.