By Bob Reinert (for Soldiers magazine)October 13, 2011
NATICK, Mass, Oct. 13, 2011 -- Anyone who has ever tackled a kitchen remodel knows that it can be a daunting project. Try doing it more than a thousand times.
Talk about kitchen nightmares.
John Oswald has been through the process that often. And the renovations he arranges involve more than simple updates.
As RESET Field Feeding/Field Services Team leader with the Integrated Logistics Support Center at Natick Soldier Systems Center, Oswald has overseen the refurbishment of 1,375 Mobile Kitchen Trailers, 104 Containerized Kitchens and 99 Laundry Advanced Design Systems, returning from Iraq and Afghanistan since 2004.
"This was an opportunity, because of the wars, that we were able to fix equipment to almost brand new," Oswald said. "It's not brand new, but it's pretty close."
According to Oswald, prior to 2004, field kitchens didn't go through RESET.
"Kitchens (were) not high enough in the Army's priority to repair," Oswald said. "They're going to fix the tanks and the airplanes and all that."
Because the Mobile Kitchen Trailers, or MKTs, have not been produced since 1995, plenty needed updating and repair. With no new model planned, MKTs could remain in the field for another quarter-century.
"If the Army had to buy MKTs new, you'd buy them for $105,000," said Oswald, adding that one unit can be RESET for only $44,000.
RESET saves even more money with other items: The Laundry Advanced Design Systems, or LADS, costs $701,000 new, $188,000 to RESET, and the Containerized Kitchens, or CK, is $235,000 new, but can be RESET for $128,000.
Of course, the RESET team can't salvage everything.
"Many of these (items) return from (Southwest Asia), (and we) can't even fix them," Oswald said. "They're bent, broken. They are used for parts."
Still, the RESET Team has saved the Army millions of dollars over the past seven years. Even more important, its members have reacted quickly at times to improve the lives of Soldiers in theater.
"They go over and either they don't have the equipment or they don't take it with them because they're going to fall in on some other unit's equipment," said Oswald of deploying units. "They fall in on something that's been over there for a long time. It doesn't work.
"We try to send them, A, parts, or, B, substitute new for old, if we can do it. We get calls probably every week from overseas."
Last year, when Oswald helped get 58 Modern Burner Units, 150 MBU tool kits and 10 food sanitation centers shipped to Afghanistan within a week of a request, a food service officer responded: "It's Christmas in July. Thank you very much."