WIESBADEN, Germany - They may be far from the battlefield, but their efforts go a long way toward protecting Soldiers in harm's way.
"We are here for the Soldier and civilian … supplying them with equipment on a daily basis so they can succeed at their jobs," said Teresa Hill, Wiesbaden Central Issue Facility customer service manager.
Located on Wiesbaden Army Airfield in Building 1039 and in Building 8716 in Baumholder, the CIF staffs manage an inventory of about $62 million in military gear.
In addition to inventory management, the staff handles the issuing of required military equipment to Soldiers and some special category civilians.
"In-processing at the CIF is a very smooth transaction," said Bruce Smith, Wiesbaden and Baumholder CIF manager, who said a typical visit includes a briefing from the staff, a review of a Soldier's inventory items and the endorsing of one's clothing record.
When Soldiers process through CIF, they usually acquire items that make up the collection called Organizational Clothing Items and Equipment, formerly known as TA-50 gear. The equipment currently being issued is more advanced than that of previous years, and has evolved in design. The colors and design went from olive drab green to woodland, desert, universal and Operation Enduring Freedom camouflage patterns. "Some Soldiers have a combination of each pattern," said Smith, who has the responsibility of ensuring the facilities are stocked with the best quality of Army equipment.
"If we don't have something, we work extra to ensure the customer gets the needed item," said Hill who told of a recent situation where the staff helped a Soldier procure items in order to deploy. "The Soldier was missing a number of items. He needed boots, (a certain uniform) and (interceptor body armor) gear. We reached out to a few places and he got everything he needed to get on the plane."
CIF manages accountability of inventory through the Installation Support Module, a vast Army Materiel Command database that is connected to Army Knowledge Online. Soldiers can access their individual clothing records through AKO, but the CIF staff stands ready and is able to assist if that system fails.
"Many of them know they can use AKO, but they come to us because they trust our system a little more," said Hill.
Once the Soldier accepts responsibility of the issued items, it is his or her responsibility to maintain accountability of the issued items. "Soldiers have to pay for lost items … and this equipment is not cheap," said Hill, who further explained that repayment is determined after a Financial Liability Investigation of Property Loss is performed. Depending on what a Soldier is issued, one could amass a collection of gear that could exceed one year's pay of an E1, said Smith.
"A deploying Soldier is issued an average of $15,000 worth of equipment," said Smith. "A large part of the value is from items like body armor and special protective gear they use when they deploy."
Because the revelation of a lost item often happens as a Soldier is out-processing -- when permanently changing duty stations or separating from the military -- CIF clerks advise Soldiers to do regular inventory checks of gear and return any duplicated items found while performing such checks.
If a Soldier finds items are missing or misplaced after doing a personal inventory check, he or she can contact the CIF to replace the lost item. However, this is only a temporary fix until the lost item is recovered.

"Just stop by and we will have the Soldier sign a hand receipt and issue him or her a replacement," said Hill.

Contact the Baumholder CIF at mil 485-7470 or civ (06783) 6-7470 for more information. In Wiesbaden, call 337-5183/5653 or civ (0611) 705-5183/5653. (Tim Brown, supply management specialist for the Directorate of Logistics, contributed to this article.)