ERBIL AIR BASE, Iraq - “I’m here to help,” is the message Brian L. Debutts, logistic assistance representative, 401st Army Field Support Brigade, wants Soldiers and commanders to hear when he meets them for the first time in theater.
LARs are technical specialists deployed by the U.S. Army Materiel Command Logistics Assistance Program. They come in all variety of flavors.
Some work for the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command like Dennis Dudley, who was the focus of a recent video produced by the 401st AFSB.
TACOM LARs are specialists in the field of tank-automotive and armament life cycle management. Debutts, who’s currently serving as an information technology radio master technician for the Army Field Support Battalion-Southwest Asia, is a U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command LAR responsible for advising and instructing users of electronic systems and subsystems.
There are also LARS who work for the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, who provide logistical and technical support to missile and aviation units.
All elements of the LAP operate within Army Regulation 700-4, which covers civilian logistics assistant program areas of responsibility.
Like many jobs in the military, establishing relationships and being able to effectively communicate is critical to mission success. This is why LARs like Debutts pride themselves in being able to integrating into any given unit’s battle rhythm.
“My first responsibility is to make contact with supported unit’s command staff, introduce myself to them and establish rapport,” said Debutts. “This is imperative to the rest of the work that will be done. Foremost, the unit must have a level of trust in you that you have their best interest in mind and that you know your job.”
Still, every job has its challenges and difficulties to overcome. Unfortunately, in the case of LARs, one difficulty commonly encountered comes in the form of pushback from the organizations they’re responsible for supporting.
“The first reaction I typically get when I meet with a unit is them asking me if they can help me,” said Debutts. “I usually respond by telling them that, on the contrary, I am here to help them.”
Pushback aside, Debutts has persevered and decisively established himself as an indispensable member of any military team. Prior to his arrival in Northern Iraq, there was a six-month void of IT LARs in the region, due primarily to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Once restrictions were lifted, Debutts was boots-on-ground. He quickly went about meeting with every unit in Erbil, assessing their shortfalls and worked with their Soldiers one-on-one to tackle any and all IT challenges they were experiencing.
As system matter experts, there are, understandably, moments when LARs can come off as having command authority related to equipment or procedures. However, this is not the case, since LARs’ primary responsibility is to support the military by enhancing readiness, not command it.
“Their priorities may be different than what I think they should be. I am here to assist, advise, and train. They may not always take my advice. I have to respect that,” said Debutts.
The future of the LAP and the LARs within its ranks looks bright, and will undoubtedly continue to progress as the Army continues to maintain Field Support Brigades and Battalions throughout the Army.
“The LAR program will continue to evolve according to the equipment and requirements of the Army,” said Debutts. “For example, we all know that the Space Force is being put together. How will they communicate with the Army, tactically? As the Army develops better and more efficient forms of communication, the LARs will continue to be at the leading edge of the technology,” said Debutts.
Debutts hails from Yelm, Washington, where he is married and has two boys, ages 9 and 14. He joined the CECOM team after retiring from the U.S. Army with 21 years of service.
He is an Operation Desert Storm veteran and served in eight deployments around the world. Additionally, he was awarded “LAR of the Year” in 2013.
Whenever he is not supporting Army operations overseas in Iraq, Debutts enjoys fishing, hiking, camping and spending time with his family.
When asked about any message he’d like to impart to Soldiers and commanders at the 401st AFSB, Debutts said, “It is a privilege and an honor to serve alongside you and assist in accomplishing the mission of raising the Army’s equipment readiness.”
“I am working with the units diligently in order to show that we are a professional, world-class organization that is here to assist them with successful mission accomplishment.”
To learn more about the Logistics Assistance Program (LAP), or Logistics Assistance Representatives (LARs), visit https://cecom.army.mil/ or https://www.facebook.com/CommunicationsElectronicsCommandCECOM/