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For the Army to transition to large-scale combat operations (LSCO), Gen. Ed Daly, commanding general of Army Materiel Command (AMC), said the Army must “modernize and transform the sustainment warfighting function capabilities.” Equipment divestment is the process of removing excess and obsolete equipment, redistributing equipment within and between commands, and fielding modern equipment. Successful equipment divestment is critical to Army readiness and modernizing the sustainment warfighting function because it allows commanders to focus strained manpower and resources exclusively on the authorized modified table of equipment.

Despite its consequence, the Army continues to struggle with equipment divestment. The Army currently has more than 700,000 pieces of excess equipment, which wastes countless man-hours on services and inventory that could otherwise be used on the actual authorized modified table of equipment. Ultimately, this waste of manpower, resources, and space inhibits commanders’ ability to maintain combat readiness.

The Army attempts to address this issue via the AMC’s total equipment management strategy. In 2020, AMC implemented 14 modernization displacement and repair sites (MDRSs) throughout the United States. A review of MDRS effectiveness revealed an increase in the volume of turn-in of excess and obsolete items. These teams relieve unit responsibility to prepare and ship excess and obsolete equipment. However, these supplementary assets cannot be the Army’s only means to achieving Army readiness via equipment divestment. Although MDRS teams are remarkable assets, commanders are responsible for property management. Therefore, command teams and leaders at the platoon level must be aware of equipment divestment importance while building a healthy property and maintenance culture.

Army Sustainment University instructs a two-week block on LSCO during its Basic Officer Leadership Course (BOLC). During this block, lieutenants learn about the multiple aspects of the brigade combat team fight, echeloned sustainment, and supply support activity operations. In addition, the block includes a brief overview of turn-in and shipping operations, recoverable and excess turn-ins, and the strategic support area turn-in section roles and responsibilities.

During this block of instruction, current and future platoon leaders must learn the importance of equipment divestment to Army readiness and modernization. Although a brief overview of the necessary personnel, processes, and documentation is essential, officers should know how equipment divestment impacts Army readiness. More importantly, logistics platoon leaders within this course must understand their instrumentality in ensuring combat readiness. Compartmentalized investment in equipment divestment, as shown by MDRS, can only serve to supplement command teams. Energized leaders at the platoon level are the solution to the Army’s current readiness issue.

Furthermore, the Army should better incentivize leaders to champion equipment divestment. For example, BOLC students learn about Department of the Army Form 2765-1, Request for Issue or Turn-In. However, because there is no unit incentive to report equipment found on an installation, much of this block is practically extinguished at the platoon level. Incentives for turning in unused or obsolete equipment may rapidly increase unit ownership of this readiness issue. It could reduce obsolete and excess equipment issues Army-wide.

In conclusion, successful equipment divestment can increase a commander’s operational reach, freedom of action, and prolonged endurance in LSCO. At the platoon level, Army leaders must understand their role in accomplishing the Army’s Force Sustainment Modernization Strategy and the Army Campaign Plan 2030 and maintain unit combat readiness. The Army and our professional military education have the responsibility and opportunity to foster greater platoon leader awareness and ownership of equipment divestment and its impact on Army readiness.

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2nd Lt. Anessa Ridley recently attended the Basic Officer Leadership Course (BOLC) at Army Sustainment University, Fort Gregg-Adams, Virginia. She received her commission from the United States Military Academy in May 2022 with a degree in sociology and a focus on systems engineering. She worked in the Quartermaster General’s Commandant Initiative Group. After completing BOLC, Ridley will serve as a platoon leader in Fort Carson, Colorado.

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This content is published online in conjunction with the Summer 2023 issue of Army Sustainment.

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