ZUTENDAAL, Belgium – In 1985 he was stationed at Tongeren, Belgium, with the British Royal Air Force working for NATO. From there, he would sometimes be dispatched to nearby Zutendaal Army Depot to provide maintenance support to vehicles there. At that time, U.S. forces were first establishing what was then called prepositioning of materiel configured in unit sets, or POMCUS, the precursor to today’s Army Prepositioned Stocks-2.
Fast forward 37 years later, and he’s now working at the Zutendaal APS-2 site. No longer assigned to the Royal Air Force, Antony Phoenix now serves with the U.S. Army and the 405th Army Field Support Brigade.
As the team lead for the preservation team at Zutendaal under the command and control of Army Field Support Battalion-Benelux, Phoenix is responsible for a team of six personnel, to include one carpenter. Their mission is to ensure all APS-2 equipment is preserved properly, in accordance with Army guidelines and regulations.
“We have a book that I call our preservation bible,” said Phoenix. “It details what we need to do for each individual piece of equipment, line-by-line.”
For example, Phoenix and his team ensure that all rust is removed from any and all APS-2. And if there’s any excessive grease or anything of that nature, that’s also removed. In addition, some of the electronic equipment must be vacuum packed and placed in special packaging.
The preservation team also ensures that all APS-2 equipment scheduled to be stored inside one of the climate-controlled warehouses is fully cleaned, and if something is scheduled to ship back to the United States, it receives a deep cleaning to prevent environmental contamination or problems with customs.
“We don’t want any nasty beetles or spiders from Belgium getting into America and causing environmental problems,” said Phoenix, who lives in Tongeren, 25 kilometers from Zutendaal, with his wife, Anne.
The British and Belgian dual citizen who turns 62 next month has a lot of experience with ground support equipment and ensuring it stays fully mission capable. At one point during his 12 years of service with the Royal Air Force he deployed to the Falkland Islands for several months. At the time, all the power there was supplied by generators, and Phoenix was responsible for maintaining all of that equipment – ultimately keeping all the lights on and all the facilities running.
“During my time with the Royal Air Force I worked on pretty much everything,” said Phoenix who hails from Wrexham, Wales. “If it didn’t have a wing attached to it and it was electrically supplied, I worked on it.”
From vacuum cleaners and generators all the way up to the equipment used to start the jet engines, Phoenix kept it running and in tip-top form for the Royal Air Force. But for Phoenix, working for the U.S. Army has been equally rewarding.
“I enjoy working for the U.S. Army, as well. For me, it’s nice to see how the American side works. Everything seems to be clicking in the right places, and we’ve gotten good results all around,” Phoenix said.
“In a way, what’s happened over the past few months has provided some good insight for everyone,” he said. “Now, they actually know why they’re here. It’s not nice that we have to do it, but it’s nice that we’ve shown we’re capable of doing it.”
“And personally, I’m extremely proud,” said Phoenix. “All the feedback we’ve received from all the units and all the Soldiers we’ve supported – plus from our site director and the directors from supply and maintenance – has been very positive. We’ve all been doing a fairly substantial job, and everybody is appreciative of our work.”
“Personally, I find that my team is one of the best teams on Zutendaal,” said Phoenix, “but obviously I’m going to say that. I’m a little biased.”
The Zutendaal APS-2 site maintains equipment designated for a sustainment brigade and separate reporting units and encompasses 600,000 square feet of climate controlled warehouse space in 15 warehouses as well as 40,000 square feet of hardstand storage.
Battalion Benelux is one of four battalions assigned to the 405th AFSB. The battalion provides mission command of APS-2 operations at Eygelshoven, Netherlands, and Zutendaal, and is charged with providing and coordinating receipt, transfer, storage and maintenance of APS-2. This enables commanders to conduct unified action and perform a full range of military operations in support of U.S. Army Europe and Africa.
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.