CHIÈVRES AIR BASE, Belgium – If the snow sweepers, plows or ice removal trucks at Chièvres Air Base break down and are out of action during peak winter months, air operations supporting NATO and Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe could be grounded.
But that won’t fly for Giancarlo Giardina and his small team of mechanics who are charged with maintaining all that U.S. Army Garrison Benelux snow and ice removal equipment.
The maintenance supervisor from Logistics Readiness Center Benelux and his four general mechanics and one body shop specialist are responsible for the upkeep of all that equipment at Chièvres Air Base, plus a lot more.
“We take care of a wide variety of equipment – from lawnmowers to heavy duty trucks, snow sweepers, road sweepers, runway sweepers, all-terrain vehicles, forklifts, tractors with flail mowers and a lot more,” said Giardina.
One of the most important pieces of equipment the maintenance team is responsible for are 36-ton trucks that carry the ice removal systems and include cranes.
“It’s a really big piece of equipment,” said the 37-year-old Belgian local national who has worked for the U.S. Army for more than 11 years.
“We manage all the regular annual services and repairs on all the vehicles and equipment belonging to USAG Benelux,” he said. “This includes all the equipment that maintains the runway at Chièvres as well as all the general equipment needed for the rest of the installation.”
With over 400 vehicles and equipment pieces they are responsible for, it’s a big mission. And it’s not just Chièvres Air Base, either. Giardina and his team support USAG Benelux operations in three countries. Some of the installations they provide maintenance support to are in Brussels and Zutendaal, Belgium; Eygelshoven and Brunssum, Netherlands; and Dülmen, Germany. A large percentage of the equipment they maintain and repair belong to the Directorate of Public Works, USAG Benelux.
“Our main mission is to support them so they can do their mission,” he said. “If USAG Benelux doesn’t have operational equipment in good working order, they cannot do their mission. If they don’t have a functional runway sweeper they cannot ensure the runway is safe for planes to land and takeoff.”
In addition, Giardina and his team are currently tasked with a special project in support of tactical operations. For months they have been repainting Army combat vehicles and equipment pieces – mostly Humvees and Humvee trailers – from the Eygelshoven Army Prepositioned Stocks-2 worksite.
“They’re coming to us tan, and we’re repainting them OD Green. It’s a huge project because of the sheer number of equipment pieces and amount of work,” he said.
Giardina said being employed by LRC Benelux for well over a decade has been nothing but a pleasure and an honor.
“Working for the U.S. Army is a privilege that not many people from Belgium can say they’ve had,” said Giardina who was born in Venezuela and moved to Belgium as a child. “It’s always something special when you tell your family and friends. And it’s important. The support the U.S. Army provides to NATO and Belgium and all our European allies is very important.”
The LRC Benelux maintenance division provides installation baseline services to the USAG Benelux area of operation. This includes maintenance, repairs, services, and paint and body shop support across the garrison’s footprint to include multiple installations in Belgium and the Netherlands as well as Dülmen, Germany. As USAG Benelux’s maintenance provider, the maintenance division at LRC Benelux is tasked with keeping all garrison vehicles and equipment pieces at a fully mission capable plus safety standard.
LRC Benelux is one of seven LRCs under the command and control of the 405th Army Field Support Brigade. LRCs execute installation logistics support and services to include supply, maintenance, and transportation as well as clothing issue facility operations, hazardous material management, personal property and household goods, passenger travel, non-tactical vehicle and garrison equipment management, and property book operations. When it comes to providing day-to-day installation services, LRC Benelux directs, manages and coordinates a variety of operations and activities in support of USAG Benelux.
LRC Benelux reports to the 405th AFSB, which 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 U.S. Army Materiel Command’s materiel enterprise to support joint forces. For more information on the 405th AFSB, visit the official website and the official Facebook site.