By Jim Hinnant, 401st Army Field Support BrigadeMay 15, 2008
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait (May 14, 2008) Ac"a,! The mission here to receive, prepare and ship Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles built in South Africa for Operation Enduring Freedom is nearly complete.
Built by BAE Systems, more than 300 of the vehicles arrived here by sea over a four-month period and, in a mammoth warehouse near here, were successfully prepared for combat deployment during a complex process of "deprocessing" and "integration" performed by a military-contractor "fly-away" team.
The deprocessing meant physically getting the MRAPs road-ready after extended periods of non-use while in transit, according to Lt. Col Mark Kelley, operations officer for 401st Army Field Support Brigade, the in-theater U.S. Army Materiel Command unit responsible for overseeing the project.
Integration meant installing, and making operational the theater-specific equipment required by the various warfighting organizations in the operational area, said Kelley.
The team from Charleston, S.C. was first-rate, said Kelley. "The work by Lieutenant Commander James Hadley and the team of integration specialists exceeded all expectations," Kelley said. "The vehicles were rapidly prepared for operations in Afghanistan and delivered to Soldiers in need of the protection they offer."
According to Hadley, MRAP operations officer from Naval Space and Warfare Systems Center, Charleston, S.C., this operation was a first.
"This is the first time we have put together a team in CONUS, flown them to another country and performed a task like this," said Hadley.
He said the biggest challenge was going into an uncertain situation without assurance of how it would end up. "I think our greatest satisfaction has been coming here, working against a compressed schedule dictated by the warfighters in Afghanistan, and it all coming together," he said.
According to Hadley, total schedule synchronization was required from start to finish in order to meet the expectations of the warfighter.
"The issue plan in Afghanistan called for the MRAPs to be issued to units at a specific time," he said. "Soldiers from the receiving units were brought in to the various delivery points in country to accept the vehicles; we had to be sure we had them there at the place and time required."
At a brief ceremony at the MRAP Facility today, Brig. Gen. James L. Hodge, commanding general, U.S. Army Materiel Command (Forward) and C4, U.S. Army Central Coalition Land Forces Component Command, presented approximately 90 members of the Jacobs/EMA, Inc. /SAIC-Joint Logistics Integrator/SPAWAR/U.S. Army Central team with certificates of appreciation. According to Hadley, in the next few days the last of the RG-31s will roll to a nearby aerial port of debarkation to be flown to Afghanistan and finally delivered where they are most needed - into the hands of the warfighter.