In October 2019, Maj. Gen. James J. Mingus, the former commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, initiated a property management campaign plan to rid the unit commanders’ property books of excess equipment to improve and maintain pace with operational requirements.
Commanders from across the All-American division were responsible for an overflow of more than five thousand pieces of equipment, which accumulated over the years and greatly impacted operational readiness.
The 82nd Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade was appointed as the lead brigade for the property right-sizing initiative and played an integral part in what would set the stage for the divestiture process of a unit’s excess property. The Provider Brigade spearheaded the way ahead by nesting with the 406th Army Field Support Battalion (AFSBn) and the Defense Logistics Agency-Disposition Services (DLA-DS) to implement the mobile retrograde warehouse team (M-RWT). With the M-RWT in place came the birth of the retrograde warehouse yard. The warehouse yard’s capability supported the property management campaign plan’s line of effort to reduce excess and fix units’ property books to align with current mission and operational requirements. The M-RWT mission also included the receiving of all properly identified excess material within the division, preparing the property for retrograde to the source of repair, and reallocating it according to disposition instructions.
The retrograde warehouse yard served as the primary turn-in location for units to divest of surplus equipment; units had the option of unlimited turn-in, which were available five days a week. The newly implemented process and procedures were developed through the combined efforts of the 82nd Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade, 406th AFSBn, and DLA-Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The M-RWT streamlined the turn-in and receiving process, thus increasing productivity by 95%. The improvements to velocity boosted the flow of turn-ins significantly from 5 to 10 pieces of rolling stock per unit, to as many as 150 pieces of rolling stock per unit, and up to 50 line item numbers (LIN) per week. That equates to about 1,800 pieces of rolling stock and 2,600 LINs of extra equipment divested throughout the 82nd Airborne Division by the end of fiscal year 2020.
The “Provider” brigade, the 406th AFSBn, and DLA set the framework for FORSCOM to standardize and operationalize the displaced equipment process across the board.
The RWT simplified the excess turn-in process by creating a one-stop-shop, with DLA and 406th AFSBn all Army excess (AAE) partners located in-house when excess turn-ins are completed and implemented a walk-in turn-in process allowing units to turn-in an unlimited number of excess equipment daily.
This process not only reduces the amount of red tape unit commanders endure while trying to rid themselves of surplus equipment, but it also maximizes divestiture velocity and sets a new standard by streamlining the excess turn-in process.
With a steady flow of turn-ins and lateral transfer requirements, the 82nd Sustainment Brigade’s RWT turned in more than 15,000 pieces of property, including 2,700 pieces of rolling stock, to appropriate agencies. This saved $160 million in equipment returned to the DOD supply system or transferred to right-size units’ modification table of organization and equipment and improved supply/readiness ratings.
During the development of modernizing the centralized access control point, the MRWT identified some chokepoints, which aided the capabilities of what the retrograde warehouse yard is now.
Four vital efforts are what sets the M-RWT apart from the traditional way of excess turn-in.
- RWT Capabilities: The RWT completed 80% of the paperwork, taking the brunt of the stress off the unit supply clerk by reducing the required turn-in packet from nine to three documents for turn-ins to DLA-DS and enabled customers to fix packets on the spot. Furthermore, the team conducted demilitarization of each piece of equipment in preparation for final turn-in/lateral transfer. These trained personnel properly facilitated valid turn-in/lateral transfer, which drastically reduced the likelihood of rejection. It also built trust with external agencies, leading to daily relief in place of equipment with DLA-DS. Moreover, commanders were relieved of all property immediately upon turn-in of equipment at the RWT yard. All equipment was stored in a secured yard and warehouse facilities for DLA-DS and AAE to take ownership.
- Building Partnerships with External Agencies: Before the development of the Task Force (RWT), the average wait time for customers to turn in equipment through DLA-DS or AAE took about two weeks to a month to get an appointment. Additionally, units were obligated to a 15-day “conditional acceptance” for bulk turn-ins with a possibility of rejection, and limited to only five pieces of rolling stock per week to DLA-DS, contingent upon available space. After inviting the area manager of DLA-DS and the Chief of S&S Division of 406th AFSBn to discuss the way ahead of the division’s property right-sizing Initiative, both agencies were eager to assist and align their capabilities to meet the division’s goal in reducing excess across the formation. DLA-DS and 406th AFSBn made every effort possible to accommodate the command’s intent and ensured the division’s disposal needs served as one of their priorities. The agreement with the agencies helped reduce the average wait time for customers to daily turn-ins at the RWT yard. Additionally, as the conditions changed due to COVID-19, DLA-DS and 406th AFSBn continued to support the division’s redefined plans to dispose of excess property under minimal manning essential personnel requirements. DLA-DS allowed each tactical supply support activity to conduct weekly turn-ins as an additional outlet for the division to reduce property. These processes allowed commanders and accountable officers to divest equipment faster and easier compared to previously published standards.
- Movement Support: The 82nd Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade augmented the M-RWT with a “movement response force” using the 126th Composite Truck Company (CTC) of the 189th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion (CSSB) as additional resources to assist company, troop, and battery commands with the transport of excess property from their unit location to the RWT yard. The 126th CTC, 189th CSSB heightened the momentum of turn-ins, while units focused on competing requirements.
- Centralized Location Improving Readiness (Reutilization Site): The RWT yard allowed units on installation to “shop” the “as-is” turn-ins for parts such as doors, lights, tires, and engines, to keep priority fleets at full capacity. The M-RWT yard “as-is” transactions have greatly impacted the division’s overall readiness rate in a positive way, hitting ninety percent across the division for the first time in a decade.
Maj. Tommie C. Bryant is currently serving as the executive officer of the 82nd Special Troops Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration in International Business and a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Logistics Supply Chain Management from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University. Additionally, Bryant received a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in International business from Strayer University.
Sgt. 1st Class Jaquetta Z. Gooden is currently serving as the chief of Public Affairs, 82nd Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Chaminade University of Honolulu.
This article was published in the April-June 2021 issue of Army Sustainment.