Sustainment troops in Kuwait equip Ironhorse Brigade
By David Ruderman, 402nd Army Field Support Brigade Public AffairsJanuary 30, 2012
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait (Jan. 30, 2012) -- The Army Field Support Battalion-Kuwait, 402nd Army Field Support Brigade, began the issue here of brigade combat team equipment to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division's Ironhorse Brigade, Jan. 3.
When the equipment draw is completed in mid-February, the unit will be properly equipped to conduct security cooperation, training and joint exercises with Kuwaiti forces, said officials.
The operation is a legacy mission of the 402nd Army Field Support Brigade, or AFSB, which dates back to the U.S.-Kuwaiti Defense Cooperation Agreement signed in 1991, said Lt. Col. Kenneth Gill, Army Field Support Battalion-Kuwait's commander.
"That was the original core mission of the battalion, which at that time was called the Combat Equipment Battalion," said Gill.
The present operation is a "deliberate draw" to be conducted over a period of weeks, rather than a "hasty draw," which would have called for the completion of the issue within 10 days, said Ned Bryan, Army Field Support Battalion-Kuwait's deputy commander.
As a result of the deliberate pace of the draw, the 402nd AFSB team has been able to conduct regular feedback sessions with all participating elements. The aim of the self-evaluation process is to capture and deliver lessons learned to the Army Sustainment Command and to the Army at large, said officials.
"We are grateful to the ARCENT (U.S. Army Central) commander and the ARCENT team for supporting us in conducting this 'deliberate draw,'" said the 402nd AFSB commander, Col. John S. Laskodi.
Codifying lessons learned from the operation will benefit the Army's Materiel Enterprise at large and contribute to improving like operations across the Army, he said.
"This is going to be a show for the Army," said Laskodi. "I have every confidence in the team. We're going to set the standard. Let's do this deliberately and safely."
The draw is taking place in four phases that repeat for each unit of the brigade. In Phase One, the units conducting the day's draw arrive at Camp Arifjan and are briefed on the operation and safety parameters. Safety procedures and heightened awareness have been stressed repeatedly during the equipment issue, and the effect has been positive, officials said. There have been no accidents, incidents or injuries through three weeks of the draw.
Once briefed and oriented, Soldiers proceed to various equipment lines to receive and check their prepared inventories and conduct preventive maintenance checks and services. This second phase is the essence of the draw, and can be the most time-consuming. Soldiers work closely with contractor provided line bosses and technicians under the supervision of Army Field Support Battalion-Kuwait personnel to ensure that equipment is in good working order, resolving discrepancies and technical issues on the spot to minimize delays.
During each day's draw, Army Field Support Battalion-Kuwait Soldiers and contractor representatives man the operation's on-site command and control center, monitoring individual unit progress and issuing status reports every four hours to ensure delays are identified and dealt with quickly and effectively.
"The 402nd has been very proactive, flexible and accommodating to the Ironhorse Brigade throughout the whole process, from the planning stages through the issue of each unit passing through," said Col. Scott Efflandt, Ironhorse Brigade commander.
Once company commanders are sure that all items are accounted for, they release their Soldiers to begin Phase Three, working with the Army Field Support Battalion-Kuwait and 402nd AFSB accountability cell to ensure the complete and accurate transfer of responsibility for the equipment from the Army War Reserve Deployment System accounting database, which tracks equipment at the Army level, to the Property Book Unit Supply- Enhanced system, which tracks assets assigned to the individual unit's property book.
Reconciling discrepancies between the two accounting systems has been one of the challenges of the draw, and one where the 402nd team has relied on support from Army Sustainment Command experts to identify solutions. As a result, changes to the software coding that run the two systems are being developed for future implementation.
For the present, the 402nd and the Cavalry units are using a variety of work-around solutions to keep the operation going and minimize delays, and meeting with success. By the third week of the issue process, the team began hitting the 12-hour timeline for a complete company-level issue.
"We should be able to do it digitally," said Laskodi. "This is just a reverse RPAT [Redistribution Property Assistance Team] process. That's all it is. We're learning along the way."
Once property book issues are reconciled and hand receipts are signed, equipment is loaded for transport and convoyed to the brigade's base of operations, Camp Buehring, where the units will commence their missions.
Despite the usual hiccups and occasional delays inherent in such a large-scale and complex operation, reaction among the receiving units has been very positive, said Lt. Col. Jason Kidder, 1st Brigade executive officer.
"They are not used to having the equipment laid out in this organized a way, and most of the equipment we are receiving is new. It's in very good condition compared to other draws I have been through," he said.
The issue will continue through the Feb. 9. Once completed, a cumulative after action review, or AAR, session will be conducted and all parties will walk away with lessons learned and updated versions of their standard operating procedures to have in hand for equipment issues in future.
Once the brigade begins its missions at Camp Buehring, the 402nd AFSB's on-site Logistics Support Element-Kuwait will provide follow-on maintenance and additional support, said 402nd officials.
"Now that our combat forces are out of Iraq, we still have a mission here in Southwest Asia," said Laskodi.
To date, Army Field Support Battalion-Kuwait has issued more than 1,000 pieces of rolling stock and 2,000 pieces of non-rolling stock to the Ironhorse Brigade, said Gill.
"The 402nd has done an outstanding job," said Lt. Gen. Dennis Via, U.S. Army Materiel Command deputy commanding general, who visited the Arifjan site Jan. 11 for a briefing and tour of the main equipment issue lines.