ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. – The Army Prepositioned Stocks program proved its invaluable worth to friends and foes alike as a real-life crisis and a very important exercise showed the benefits of units accessing needed equipment in a short time.
The 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team from Fort Stewart, Georgia, deployed to Europe and received an entire ABCT’s worth of Army Prepositioned Stocks-2 armored vehicles and equipment.
In addition, all the needed basic issue items, repair parts and tools were provided to sustain the 1st ABCT at a fully mission capable status to support NATO operations responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – all thanks to the 405th Army Field Support Brigade.
Quite a feat considering that it was the first time this happened since the 1st Armored Division left Germany in 2013 for Fort Bliss, Texas, said Gregory Stopyra, logistics management specialist, Support Operations, U.S. Army Sustainment Command.
“Specific to the recent issue of APS-2 in support of the Army’s support to Ukraine, this may be the first use of APS in Europe in response to a theater operational requirement that was not a training exercise,” Stopyra, who has served four years at Army Field Support Battalion-Northeast Asia (APS-4) and three here at ASC headquarters, pointed out.
Yet, on a smaller scale, the use of Army Prepositioned Stocks has been employed to support major exercises, has gone through cycles of high and low use frequency, and has historically been used to support various theater exercises, to include European Theater exercises, he said.
Likewise, while APS-2 was being deployed in Europe, another first APS use was occurring in a different part of the world.
The U.S. Army Pacific employed APS-3, also known as APS Afloat, for the first time during recent exercises in the Philippines.
“This was the first employment of APS-3 equipment in support of an USARPAC exercise requirement in the Philippines,” Stopyra said.
The AFSBn-Charleston, based in South Carolina and assigned to the 404th AFSB, headquartered at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, was operationally controlled by the 402nd AFSB, headquartered in Hawaii, for exercise support. They executed the issue and subsequent turn-in of APS-3 equipment in the Philippines, Stopyra said.
The U.S. Army has multiple APS sets worldwide, which reduce deployment timelines, improve deterrence capabilities, and provide additional combat power for contingency operations.
Stopyra offered some advice for units, such as the ABCT, to ensure a smooth, timely transfer of equipment.
“First, refer to Army Techniques Publication 3-35.1 (APS Operations) to understand the roles and responsibilities for all Army Organizations that support the issue of APS. It is a great reference document that even provides planning/pre-deployment checklists that units can utilize to enable their detailed planning,” he said.
“Second, reach out to your supporting Army field support battalion or Army field support brigade. The earlier a unit initiates dialogue … the sooner we can affect discussion and planning with our AFSBs that will be handing off APS equipment to support their mission.”
Likewise, Stopyra offered this to units returning equipment.
“The key to a smooth, successful turn-in is a unit that exercises a sound command supply discipline program and Command Maintenance Discipline Program. A unit that fully accounts for their property and maintains their equipment to Army Regulation 750-1 Technical Manual -10/20 standard will find turn-in operations a non-problem,” he said. “Most issues arise from units who lose accountability or don’t keep up with maintenance faults, thereby creating a significant workload for themselves during turn-in operations.”
One ASC Soldier here who was sent on temporary duty to Kaiserslautern, Germany, to assist the 405th AFSB and other gaining units, was Lt. Col. Steven Robinette, Lead Materiel Integrator directorate, Support Operations.
Robinette said he was assigned to the 405th AFSB’s S-3 (Operations) shop and was tasked with three main missions during his visit.
“First, I worked with the theater enablers – 21st Theater Support Command, 39th Movement Support Battalion, U.S. Army Europe, U.S. European Command J4 (Logistics), etc. – and subordinate Army Field Support Battalions to plan, prepare, and execute the Rehearsal of Concept drill for 18th Airborne Corps and 82nd Airborne Division arrival and equipment draw,” Robinette explained.
“Second, once the units arrived into theater, I tracked combat power build and informed senior leaders as to the current/projected status of the unit draw. Third, I planned, prepared, and executed the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division’s Rehearsal of Concept drill on drawing the APS ABCT set.”
Robinette also offered some advice to gaining units in drawing APS equipment.
“Do all the prep work you can at home station prior to arrival. Understand what you are falling in on and how it differs from what you use at home station equipment,” he said. “Some of the command and control platforms may vary, the version of equipment may be different, and ensure you bring your shop stock listing with you.”
Robinette pointed out that drawing APS equipment takes great strategic planning.
“It is not just a rental car with keys on the dash. Drawing APS takes coordination and preparation. The prep work is worth it, because strategically you can provide [equipment to] an ABCT weeks to months faster than shipping the equipment from home station.”
Robinette, a 17-year veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, said it was exciting to be part of a new phase of the APS legacy.
“I can’t speak for everyone I worked with, but for me this was a big deal. I served on EUCOM J4 team as a lead planner. So, actually, getting to be a part of a major action to provide credible deterrence was exciting to say the least.”
APS is an evolution of Prepositioning of Materiel Configured in Unit Sets – more commonly known as POMCUS -- that supported U.S. military forces in West Germany during the Cold War starting in October 1961, Stopyra said.
According to Army releases, the largest location site for APS-2 will eventually be in Powidz, Poland. Powidz is a town located in west-central Poland and has a population of about 1,000.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is managing the construction of the new $360 million APS facility, which is primarily funded by NATO. It will be operated by the 405th AFSB along with Polish forces, Army releases stated.
The new site includes 650,000 square feet of humidity-controlled warehouse space, a vehicle maintenance facility, several support facilities and 58,000 square feet of earth-covered munitions storage. It will also be NATO’s largest investment in 30 years, allowing for the rapid deployment of a full-armored brigade combat team, releases stated.