“Providing materiel readiness at the point of need” represents more than a mission statement to Kevin Threats, senior packaging specialist for the Materiel Management Directorate of the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command Logistics Center. For him, it’s personal.
About 30 years ago, Threats was serving in uniform as a field artillery fire direction chief stationed in Germany, where he frequently deployed with his unit to austere field environments throughout Europe.
“I can’t count the number of times something broke while we were deployed and we had to scramble to find a spare parts to get our equipment up to mission-capable status,” he recalled. “We’d be pretty happy when the parts finally arrived, only to open the box and discover the item was the wrong part, an unserviceable part listed as serviceable or corroded during shipment.”
Those experiences, while disappointing at the time, helped galvanize Threats’ commitment to ensuring ALC’s aviation and missile packaging meets military standards specifications for spare parts.
“When you need spare parts, you need them to arrive in working condition, especially when you’re deployed,” said Threats, who retired as an Army first sergeant in 2009 and began working for AMCOM in 2012. “Our team does everything we can to make sure the items we ship are protected against corrosion and damage, so when Soldiers open that box they’ve been waiting for, the parts are in ready-to-use condition.”
After 22 years of active-duty service, Threats’ path from the King of Battle to materiel management included several years working in management for a national-chain retail store in St. Louis, Missouri.
“That’s where I was introduced to the science and art of commercial packaging and storage,” said Threats, who holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in human resources management. “Even today, I find myself analyzing the packaging of the things I buy. If something’s packaged really well, sometimes I’ll take pictures. You never know where the good ideas for packaging solutions might come from.”
In 2012, Threats brought his packaging expertise and Army team-building skills to the AMCOM Logistics Center, so he could live closer to family members in Huntsville, Alabama. Although, he still has fond memories of his childhood homes in Monroe, Louisiana, and Port Arthur, Texas.
It didn’t take long for others in ALC to notice his innate ability to teach and mentor those new to the packaging career field.
“Even though he may not yet be in a supervisory position, make no mistake, Kevin is a leader,” said Billy Chaffin, Chief of ALC’s Packaging, Handling and Storage Branch. “He understands the 'Big Picture' and that he will not always be around. So he takes new employees under his wing and provides mentorship and hands-on packaging training.”
Threats’ training efforts introduce new employees to many different scenarios of packaging to broaden their skills and knowledge base, said Chaffin.
“Each time a unique situation evolves, he brings them together, provides them with the scenario and then sends them away to come up with solutions. He then brings them back together to discuss the pros and cons of each solution and ensure their total understanding of the correct solution once it’s revealed,” said Chaffin. “He’s taken them to local warehouses storing AMCOM materiel and provided more than 150 hours of hands-on training in the proper selection of preservation and packaging material. He’s instilled [in them] understanding of commercial versus military packaging standards.
“Kevin's ability to articulate the technical aspects of packaging development has placed these employees at an advantage compared to previous employees at this stage in their packaging career,” Chaffin noted. “They are fundamentally further ahead in their abilities than expected, and it is apparent when witnessing all the situations they are able to handle with minimum supervision.”
Threats’ commitment to developing packaging solutions for unique items was recently put to the test.
He took the lead in formulating a packaging design alternative for the future RQ-11C Raven, Mid-Range Reconnaissance (MRR) and Short Range Reconnaissance systems. The Raven is a hand-launched, remote-controlled, small unmanned air vehicle that provides reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition capabilities. The challenge was to modify the existing packaging configuration of Pelican 1660 containers used to preserve and ship the RQ-11B Raven MMR system, comprised of an air vehicle, handheld ground control station, GCS batteries, a field repair kit and a spares package.
“Threats’ solution was presented and accepted as a viable alternative by the MRR Product Support Integrator,” said Chaffin. “The Combat Capabilities Development Command, Configuration Management Group, in collaboration with engineering support, are developing the drawing to depict the possible packaging layout of the complete MRR system in one Pelican 1660 container, instead of the two containers normally used for packing the RQ-11B. If this design is accepted by the Soldier Unmanned Aircraft System Product Office, the potential cost avoidance could be greater than a million dollars over a two year period.”
Threats was recognized as an AMCOM Most Valuable Player earlier this year for outstanding duty, performance, commitment to excellence and contributions made to the Packaging, Handling & Storage Branch, and Materiel Management Directorate.
“I have a great team with lots of diversity and each member brings something valuable to the table,” said Chaffin, who nominated Threats for the MVP award. “Kevin is just one of those employees who you wish you could clone.