By Justin Graff, 401st AFSB Public AffairsMarch 10, 2019
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait -- The 401st Army Field Support Brigade and 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team completed turn-in operations for the Army Prepositioned Stock-5 ABCT equipment set here, March 7.
More than 15,000 pieces of equipment were returned to APS-5 facilities after nine months of use by the 155th ABCT in support of Operation Spartan Shield.
"The fact that we were able to take all of this equipment in as rapidly as we have is a testament to the preparation and expertise of everyone involved," said. Lt. Col. Chris Garvin, commander, Army Field Support Battalion-Kuwait.
"Bringing it all back, the scale and scope of just how large a full ABCT is makes planning and competent teamwork invaluable," Garvin said. "We had some initial bumps in the road with the first two rehearsals, but at the end it went as planned."
The 401st AFSB scheduled two early turn-in operations on a smaller scale to test their processes. Initial plans had the majority of the process -- joint inventories, joint technical inspections, and field maintenance -- taking place at Camp Buehring, Kuwait.
"The intent was to try and eat as much of the elephant at Camp Buehring as we could because we wanted to minimize the operational distractions for the 155th ABCT as much as possible," Garvin said. "That would allow them to focus on their remaining mission, and as logisticians we could bring the support to them."
The first pieces of equipment entered the process during November, 2018. Kuwait endured record rainfall throughout that month, resulting in widespread flooding.
Austere conditions at Camp Buehring, compounded by heavy rainfall and flooding, resulted in a change of strategy which moved the bulk of operations to Camp Arifjan.
"We learned some lessons quickly and were able to improve processes on the fly," Garvin said. "Once we shifted our efforts to Camp Arifjan, which is where we did the rest of the turn-in, things went like we wanted and as we had planned."
Soldiers of the 155th ABCT entered the turn-in process by bringing equipment from their forward operating areas to Camp Buehring, where they organized information packets that included service and maintenance records and accountability paperwork for each individual piece of equipment.
After each packet was validated and confirmed by AFSBn-Kuwait and AFSBn-Southwest Asia personnel, the equipment was transported to Camp Arifjan. Transportation of the equipment from Camp Buehring to Camp Arifjan was led by the 420th Transportation Battalion, which operates as the Movement Control Battalion in Kuwait for the 1st Theater Sustainment Command.
As equipment arrived at Camp Arifjan, it was downloaded from transportation at a remote APS-5 staging lot, taken to a wash rack for cleaning, and moved to APS-5 warehouse facilities for joint inventories and technical inspections.
After the joint technical inspections, equipment was split into two main categories -- green and red. Equipment that met the Army's 10-20 maintenance standard and deemed fully mission capable were categorized as green. Vehicles that were deemed non-mission capable were categorized as red.
"We worked very hard throughout the process to keep the green vehicles green, and get the red vehicles into the hands of our maintenance specialists to start making them green quickly," Garvin said. "We were able to perform quick easy fixes on a lot of equipment, but some of the platforms needed parts that are harder to get our hands on, so that takes a little longer."
The AFSBn-Kuwait took advantage of the staggered turn-in rotation to maximize their maintenance capabilities, and have already reset about 100 tracked vehicles and about 100 wheeled vehicles.
The presence of experienced maintainers and dedicated contract support is critical to managing maintenance and parts flows, said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Quron Legrand, chief of maintenance, AFSBn-Kuwait.
"Our guys did a good job of remaining flexible and providing maintenance expertise throughout the process, which helps us stay ahead of the curve," Legrand said. "From the very beginning, our Soldiers and contractors were able to conduct precise troubleshooting, which saves the Army time and money."
AFSBn-Kuwait logistics planners are leveraging the Army materiel enterprise to acquire long-lead parts by expediting manufacturing and shipping.
"It's a full team effort between the 401st AFSB, 1st Theater Sustainment Command, U.S. Army Sustainment Command, U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, and the list goes on," Legrand said. "We're bringing the ABCT readiness up at a rapid pace to ensure we meet the intent of being ready for issue within a very short timeline. This has been a grueling task but we are up for the challenge."
Accountability of every item is equally as important as the maintenance statuses, said Garvin.
"The better we manage property accountability, the quicker we can get through the entire process," Garvin said. "We have to get all of this equipment reset quickly so it's ready and available when the Combatant Commander comes calling."
The AFSBn-Kuwait created an inventory augmentation team to better support the 155th ABCT throughout joint inventories. The inventory augmentation team provided the validated checklists from when the equipment was issued out, and cross-referenced those checklists with the incoming inventory paperwork to ensure maximum visibility on every item.
"We could easily see how many widgets the unit had when we issued this vehicle to you, and how many widgets you have now that you're bringing it back," Garvin said. "I am confident that as we've received equipment back from the line unit, our team has been extremely thorough in accounting for every piece."
Turn-in operations were completed without any major loss of property and no major injuries.
"As a commander, what I'm most pleased about is that we got all of this done safely," Garvin said. "This is a lot of heavy equipment. Things move quickly, and everyone gets fatigued."
Leadership for every unit involved put together and participated in multiple iterations of risk assessments before and during the early stages of turn-in operations, implementing new control measures after each iteration.
"We had no major injuries, no permanent injuries, no significant damage to the equipment, and most importantly, no deaths," Garvin said. "It sounds cliché, but to me that's the biggest success."
With turn-in operations complete, the AFSBn-Kuwait has shifted its focus to resetting the entire ABCT equipment set as quickly as possible.