By Ms. Jennifer Leigh King (AMC)May 23, 2008
Preparations for war are in full swing in Bamberg, Germany, as several units prepare for upcoming deployments to the Southwest Asia theater of operations. Taking charge of deploying units' left-behind equipment, the 405th Army Field Support Brigade is playing a key role in managing Europe-based Army materiel.
The LBE program cares for a unit's equipment while the unit is deployed. The program covers all aspects of a unit's materiel, including vehicles and basic initial inventory such as fire extinguishers and other items. Through the program, the 405th AFSB maintains the equipment that the unit does not take with them.
While the unit is deployed, the equipment may be issued to other units, but each unit will receive replacement pieces when it returns..Because the equipment may be issued to another unit, exact inventory records are crucial for the returning unit to receive the same types and pieces of equipment that it left behind. The LBE program is designed to provide returning units with 10/20 standard equipment upon its return, ensuring that units are fully mission capable as soon as they return to Europe.
"We leave a lot of equipment behind because we just won't need it when we're downrange," said Maj. Kevin Balisky, executive officer for the 54th Engineer Battalion, headquartered in Bamberg. "We will be falling in on equipment that is being left downrange, so there is no need for us to take everything we have.
"The LBE program is great because it's designed to maintain our equipment while we are gone," Balisky continued. "We don't want to have to go through weeks of reaching our modified table of organization and equipment when we return. We want everything maintained for us and ready to go when we get back."
As the program manager for LBE, the 405th AFSB handles everything related to materiel management on behalf of the unit during its absence.
"It's an excruciatingly detailed operation," said Capt. Mike Kistler, who represented the 405th during recent LBE operations at Bamberg. "Each piece of equipment has to be counted and inventoried, including the knives, forks and spoons that the cooks use in the field. We'll be responsible for taking care of everything for them while they're gone, and we don't want them to worry about whether or not equipment is being maintained."
Even with the large amounts of equipment being handled, the LBE inventory program is designed to be quick and efficient. The LBE inventory for the 54th Engineer Battalion was initially scheduled to last four weeks but was completed in just two weeks, due to a consolidated effort by the unit, the 405th AFSB and the Honeywell contractors who are supporting the 405th AFSB.
In addition to performing all required maintenance on equipment, the LBE program is also designed to fill potential shortages.
"If any equipment goes into the LBE program with shortages, we receive documentation," said Mike Hansen, a Honeywell contractor. "As part of the LBE program, we are responsible for replacing the missing items so that the equipment is completely stocked when the unit returns."
Army Sustainment Command, the command headquarters for the 405th AFSB, is responsible for all U.S. Army LBE programs in both CONUS and OCONUS, including operations in Hawaii, Alaska, Korea and Europe.