LIVORNO, Italy – A lot has changed at Army Field Support Battalion-Africa since Robert Guess arrived in July of 2019. When he first hit the ground, the Army Prepositioned Stocks-2 worksite at Leghorn Army Depot ‘South of the Alps’ only had one APS-2 unit equipment set – about a battalion’s worth of tactical vehicles and equipment pieces – and the installation itself was earmarked by the Department of Defense for drawdown and closure.
Fast-forward to 2024, Guess is now finishing up a five-year overseas tour with the 405th Army Field Support Brigade’s AFSBn-Africa, the drawdown and closure plans at Leghorn have been rescinded, and there’s now 11 unit equipment sets located at the APS-2 site. And plans are in place to nearly double that within the next two to three years.
Guess, who serves as AFSBn-Africa’s support operations officer, or SPO, makes it clear that his battalion lives and breathes APS-2 power projection. He said his team is currently doing the workload and manning analysis necessary to support the additional APS-2 sets. This includes the space allocation analysis, as well.
And for the upcoming DEFENDER 24 exercise this Spring, the retired Navy command master chief petty officer with 24 years of active-duty service said AFSBn-Africa will be responsible for mission command of an equipment configuration and handoff area, or ECHA, in Eastern Europe. The battalion will be issuing three APS-2 unit equipment sets to multiple gaining tactical units participating in U.S. Army Europe and Africa’s biggest exercise at the ECHA site.
Guess served with the 402nd Army Field Support Brigade as a contractor and strategic planner in Iraq for a couple of years starting in 2007 under very different circumstances, he said. In addition, Guess worked multiple other APS missions during his career, to include Fort Riley, Kansas, where he’ll return in April.
The 63-year-old father of two and grandfather of three more said the approach AFSBn-Africa uses and the common operating picture his team developed greatly improves the battalion’s ability to manage APS-2, including its ability to dynamically employ APS-2 in support of two combatant commands. The battalion’s efforts have directly impacted Army readiness across two major theaters of operations, he said.
“I have a team of four analysts in the SPO cell, which is uncommon for an APS site. It’s really the first of its kind,” said Guess. “We take great pride in being good stewards of Army resources and money while simultaneously making a difference and building readiness.”
“Bottom line, our mission is to ensure the warfighters are ready to fight. That's number one,” said Guess, whose last position in the Navy before retirement was the senior enlisted leader for Combined Joint Special Operations Command in Naples, Italy.
“And it’s not just me and my four analysts. It takes an entire team with multiple skill sets to ensure success. We take great pride knowing our warfighters are getting vehicles that are going to crank and get them into the fight quickly,” said Guess, who was raised in the Panama Canal Zone and enlisted in the Navy from Panama in 1979.
“What we’re doing here at AFSBn-Africa is like the golden goose laying golden eggs,” said Guess. “For a lot of folks, when they come here and see what we’re doing and see our very comprehensive common operating picture, they say ‘wow, this is amazing.’ They want to adopt what we have and what we’re doing.”
Guess and the team at AFSBn-Africa are charged with receiving, maintaining, storing and issuing APS-2 at Leghorn Army Depot as well as at locations forward – known as equipment configuration and handoff areas, or ECHAs. The battalion is also responsible for linking national logistics capabilities and providing logistics solutions to Army units and joint forces South of the Alps through U.S. Army Materiel Command’s Life Cycle Management Commands.
Organizations AFSBn-Africa directly supports – helping to enable readiness across two theaters of operations – are U.S. European Command, U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Army Europe and Africa, Southern European Task Force-Africa, the 173rd Airborne Brigade, and other strategic partners and allies.
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 AMC materiel enterprise to support joint forces. For more information on the 405th AFSB, visit the official website at www.afsbeurope.army.mil and the official Facebook site at www.facebook.com/405thAFSB.