By Spc. Nathan Goodall, 170th Infantry Brigade Combat TeamJune 11, 2012
BAUMHOLDER, Germany (June 11, 2012) -- While the future of new assignments is sure for Bayonet Soldiers as the 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team prepares to inactivate in the fall, it's not quite certain what will become of the millions of dollars of equipment the unit must turn in.
Because of the high value of things such as armored vehicles, computer systems and night vision goggles, the items must be meticulously inventoried.
That's why Soldiers and civilians as part of Task Force Harvest have been working together since early April to account for and turn in the brigade's equipment.
U.S. Army Europe started the program in 2005 to allow different units and personnel in Europe to meet in one location and collect equipment, said Master Sgt. Tracey M. Grinstead, 21st Theater Sustainment Command noncommissioned officer-in-charge of basic supplies collection.
The program is a "big money and time saver." All items collected as part of Task Force Harvest go to a storage location where they can be easily distributed to units throughout Europe as needed, Grinstead said.
Normally, U.S. Army units stationed in Europe would have to order new equipment from the United States. By having quick access to used equipment, Soldiers can get their hands on gear they need faster, and taxpayers don't have to front the bill to order new items, Grinstead said.
Bayonet Soldiers get the added benefit of not going through one of the biggest steps of inactivation alone. Task Force Harvest provides the means to ensure the turn-in process is completed as quickly as possible, said Jennifer M. Spencer, 21st TSC logistics management specialist.
While 21st TSC Soldiers are busy receiving, inspecting and processing equipment, Spencer's team takes care of tasks such as quality assurance and statistics analysis.
In addition, German shipping companies move the equipment from the receiving point to storage. The Soldiers, Department of the Army employees and German companies all work together to ensure the equipment is efficiently received, accounted for and stored for redistribution, said Grinstead.
This efficiency goes a long way with the volume of equipment the brigade is handing over. While most units that commission Task Force Harvest turn in items they no longer need, the 170th IBCT is signing over everything they have, Grinstead said.
"[This operation is] much bigger," Spencer said. "Normally, a Task Force Harvest assignment we go into is only a three-to-five-week operation. This one is three months."
According to Spencer, the Task Force Harvest team has successfully received approximately 27,000 pieces of equipment, worth about $110 million, in a little more than a month.
It's a great start, but the operation has a long way to go before it's finished. While many Soldiers with TF Harvest have had similar missions, this one is on a much bigger scale than anything they've seen before, said Staff Sgt. Billy W. Scott, 21st TSC floor supervisor for non-sensitive items.
Soldiers from the 16th Sustainment Brigade, the unit moving to Baumholder after the 170th IBCT's inactivation, also came to help the task, said Spc. Ivan Alas, 574th Quartermaster Support Company, 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 16th SB human resources specialist, who also inspects extremely high-value items that are sometimes worth more than $1 million apiece.
"Once I've inspected and accepted a part, I'll sign for it and it becomes my responsibility. You have to be really strict when it comes to taking in that part," Alas said, adding that about 5,000 items had gone through his inspection station in one week.
Spencer said that the daily tally of items the task force processes is a large motivation factor for the team.
"On a daily basis we know exactly what we've accomplished and that makes me feel good about coming to work. And hopefully the 170th feels good about us being here to help them," Spencer said.
And according to Capt. John P. Rugarber, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 170th IBCT assistant brigade logistics officer, the brigade appreciates TF Harvest's presence.
In terms of logistics, the on-post operation has nixed the need for the brigade to spend the time, money and effort it would take to travel to the storage depot and turn in equipment without support, Rugarber said. On a personal level, "we appreciate the fact that sometimes they'll stay later then they're scheduled [on any given day] to allow us to turn more equipment in."
For Soldiers turning equipment in, Task Force Harvest offers another important benefit.
"Motivation," said Sgt. Jose G. Rodriguez, Company B, 40th Engineer Battalion, 170th IBCT, motor sergeant. "It gets the guys ready to go on to different things in their careers."
With every piece of equipment that is turned in, Rodriguez can focus more on helping his Soldiers do what they need to properly leave the brigade and prepare them for their next duty station.
"Every time we see a piece of equipment go, we breathe a sigh of relief," Rodriguez said.