JASIONKA, Poland – Ukraine Deputy Minister of Defense Volodymyr Havrylov recently became acquainted with the 405th Army Field Support Brigade’s Tele-Maintenance and Distribution Cell-Ukraine when he conducted a walkthrough of the cell and was provided mission briefings by the 405th AFSB and various U.S. Army Materiel Command representatives on TDC-U in support of the Ukrainian armed forces.
On the ground in Jasionka and led by Army Field Support Battalion-Benelux Commander Lt. Col. Blake Smith, the newly instituted TDC-U tele-maintenance cell is proving highly effective supporting the Ukrainian forces with their sustainment and maintenance needs.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Bryan Busk, who is normally assigned to Zutendaal Army Prepositioned Stocks-2 work site, AFSBn-Benelux, said the TDC-U tele-maintenance cell is managed by the 405th AFSB and augmented by subject matter experts – Logistics Assistance Representatives and Field Service Representatives – from the various U.S. Army Materiel Command Life Cycle Management Commands. The TDC-U is able to expand sustainment and maintenance assistance to the Ukrainian armed forces via a messenger chat group system and video teleconference platform.
Busk said the TDC-U tele-maintenance cell is still somewhat in its infancy stage, but as trust and confidence continues to build and more results are seen, the utilization of the TDC-U will expand.
“It was slow going at first because of a low level of comfort from our Ukrainian partners using the TDC-U,” said Busk, who is deployed to Jasionka from Belgium. “But now the information is starting to flow, results are starting to show and trust is starting to build, and that’s causing more communication and more tele-maintenance requirements to take place.”
The equipment the Ukrainian forces are using and being sustained and maintained via TDC-U is primarily from the U.S. Some of it comes from the 405th AFSB’s APS-2 sites and some from other sources, such as excess U.S. stock and life cycle replacement systems maintained at fully mission capable levels.
The TDC-U tele-maintenance cell is not just utilized for repair, either. It’s also used to sustain the systems being used by Ukrainian forces – major end items such as M777 155 mm howitzers, M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and Javelin anti-tank weapon systems, for example.
“We are also sustaining these systems in Ukraine via the TDC-U,” said Cpt. Alexander Lovely from U.S. Army Sustainment Command who is deployed to Jasionka from Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois. “All that supply back-end that we do for U.S. forces, we’re also doing for these systems.”
“For example, it’s not just when we identify a maintenance requirement on an M777 howitzer in Ukraine where we need to order repair parts,” Lovely said. “It’s also building sustainment packages of repair parts and supplies.”
One thing that was recently identified as the TDC-U tele-maintenance cell evolves is the need for a tele-distribution communication channel and chat group, as well, Busk said. This will allow the U.S. supply management and distribution experts the ability to discuss with Ukrainian supply personnel the management of supply parts and how they are receiving them. This TDC-U tele-distribution channel would be in addition to the existing TDC-U sustainment and maintenance channels already being utilized.
Another requirement quickly identified in the early stages of the TDC-U’s launch and now fully implemented was the need for English-Ukrainian language translators. The 405th AFSB’s Logistics Civil Augmentation Program was able to rapidly meet this need with its contracting capabilities.
“We have Ukrainian interpreters included in the TDC-U chat groups so that when Ukrainian military personnel communicate with us, the interpreters are able to assist with translation,” said Busk.
The TDC-U program has been a model of cooperation and AMC enterprise-level support. Organizations supporting the mission include the 405th AFSB, AFSBn-Benelux, ASC, and multiple AMC Life Cycle Management Commands such as U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command and more.
The whole operation started with an ad hoc team, Lovely said.
“We’ve morphed it and solidified it into the TDC-U to codify systems and build something more robust,” said Lovely, “but it’s still an ad hoc team from across the AMC enterprise coming together to row in the same direction.”
And It’s going great,” he said.
“The fact that we have people from across the AMC enterprise here means that we carry with us all the resources of all those commands. Having a team that’s able to reach back and dip into the expertise from across the enterprise has been invaluable,” said Lovely, who works as a battle captain at ASC’s operations directorate.
“We’ve proven the concept, and now we’re seeing it grow as a result of that,” said Lovely. “It’s expanding and growing to cover more systems and reach further throughout the Ukrainian armed forces.”
“It’s proven to be very effective,” he added.
The 405th AFSB is assigned to ASC and under the operational control of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, U.S. Army Europe and Africa. The brigade is headquartered in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and provides materiel enterprise support to U.S. Forces throughout Europe and Africa – providing theater sustainment logistics; synchronizing acquisition, logistics and technology; and leveraging AMC’s materiel enterprise to support joint forces. For more information on the 405th AFSB, visit the official website and the official Facebook site.