GRAFENWOEHR, Germany – The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team is wrapping up its mission after about six months in Europe. The 1st ABCT conducted a no-notice deployment to Germany with nothing but rucksacks and duffle bags on their backs, but was quickly outfitted with everything needed from Army Prepositioned Stocks-2 stored in Europe, to include Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles, plus a lot more.
Now the armored brigade for Fort Stewart, Georgia, is being replaced by 1st Cavalry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team and will soon be heading home.
For the first time in history, a U.S.-based armored brigade deployed to Europe and fell in on an entire ABCT’s worth of APS-2 armored vehicles and equipment, plus all the basic issue items, repair parts and tools needed to sustain them at fully mission capable – all thanks to the 405th Army Field Support Brigade.
Now that the ABCT is wrapping up its deployment and being replaced, it’s time to start the process of returning all that APS-2 equipment, refitting it and getting it back to ready for issue, ready to fight, fully mission capable levels.
Maj. Leonard Weschler is the officer in charge of receiving all this equipment in Grafenwoehr. He said what the 405th AFSB is now doing is a reverse equipment configuration and hand-off area operation, or reverse ECHA.
“An ECHA is where we push equipment out to a gaining tactical unit,” said Weschler, the support operations officer for Army Field Support Battalion-Mannheim. “We’re now doing the reverse of that, which is the retrieval of all that equipment.”
What makes this operation unique compared to other reverse ECHA operations done in the past is the 405th AFSB is not immediately signing for the equipment from 1st ABCT, said Weschler.
“At this time we’re inventorying all the major end items by company,” said Weschler. “We are doing basic issue item layouts and inventories of all secondary items within the equipment sets, and we are doing joint PMCS (preventative maintenance checks and services) with 1st ABCT. This ensures that we are tracking any and all faults and issues with the equipment and any shortages.”
So far, two battalions from 1st ABCT are complete with inventories and PMCS, and the reverse ECHA team is about 60 percent complete with the next two battalions. Weschler said it’s expected they’ll be mission complete by the end of August.
But unique to current operations in Europe supporting Ukraine as the country continues to defend itself against Russia’s unwarranted invasion, what’s not being done at this time is APS-2 turn-in.
The 405th AFSB has been directed to not sign for any equipment from 1st ABCT, 3rd Inf. Div. until the brigade’s replacement – 3rd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. – is fit to fight and its capabilities match 1st ABCT, 3rd Inf. Div. This will ensure no mission degradation in Europe.
Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, joint light tactical vehicles and other equipment from the 3rd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. began arriving in Europe by cargo transport vessels recently as the unit begins its deployment to Europe. The Fort Hood, Texas, based armored brigade will move approximately 4,200 Soldiers and 2,700 equipment items into the European theater to replace 1st ABCT, 3rd Inf. Div., which is returning back to Fort Stewart.
Weschler said Army Field Support Battalion-Germany has command and control of the reverse ECHA operations taking place in Grafenwoehr with 1st ABCT, 3rd Inf. Div., but the mission is a 405th AFSB total team effort involving elements from AFSBn-Mannheim, AFSBn-Africa out of Livorno, Italy, as well as property book officers, supply representatives and maintenance specialists from the brigade headquarters.
According to Weschler, when all is said and done the objective is the 405th AFSB receives all the equipment back from 1st ABCT, 3rd Inf. Div. so the unit and its Soldiers can go home, and the 405th AFSB gets all that equipment back into the APS-2 cycle, fully mission capable, ready for issue and ready to continue supporting U.S. Army Europe and Africa’s readiness posture.
The 405th AFSB is assigned to U.S. Army Sustainment Command 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 the U.S. Army Materiel Command materiel enterprise to support joint forces. For more information on the 405th AFSB, visit the official website and the official Facebook site.