By Sharonda Pearson, 401st AFSB Public AffairsMarch 16, 2013
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- For nearly a decade the Army Materiel Command's Small Arms Readiness Evaluation Teams, or SARET, have traveled to units to inspect and repair weapons, optics, lasers, and mortars for the Warfighter.
Because of sequestration -- which is slated to continue for 10 years and cut approximately $500 billion from the defense budget -- things have changed.
"Traditionally when the unit deploys and then redeploys back to CONUS, they use a SARET to reset small arms equipment," said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Miguel Gomez, AMC's Brigade Logistics Support Team chief supporting 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. "However, because of budget cuts, SARET funding has been cut off as of March 2013."
Foreseeing the future, the unit decided to be proactive should funding for a SARET be unavailable during their redeployment.
"We had a good feeling that that SARET wasn't going to be an option because of funding, so we started planning a month and a half ago," Gomez said. "It made sense that we do the reset here in theater and get the Soldiers trained and have the Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) Armament Logistics Assistance Representatives provide any necessary assistance."
The solution was to tap the Soldier skills already resident in the unit by having the small arms/artillery repairer Soldiers in the 91F military occupation specialty complete their own SARET-type reset of the unit's small arms.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brandon Parrett, 702nd Brigade Support Battalion, acting armament technician, believes the small arms and artillery repair Soldiers are prepared for the task.
"The brigade commander, Col. Michael A. Getchell, has decided that the 91-Foxes, which are the experts, should do the reset here in theater," Parrett said. "Throughout the deployment they are the ones supporting the weapons system -- repairing them, gauging them -- doing all the same things required as part of a reset."
"The brigade decided to take care of the reset here in theater due to fiscal constraints and the large quantities of weapons that need to be reset," Parrett added. "Here we have the equipment needed to do the reset; that might not be the case when we return home."
While Soldiers downrange will be fully supported, and most base support functions will continue in the near term, military readiness, base facility maintenance, and modernization will likely erode as a result of sequestration.
Gomez believes that the financial uncertainties will force the Army to return to the basics.
"Having the Soldiers do the reset accomplishes two things," he said. "First, it saves the Army, Army Materiel Command and the unit money. AMC will save on equipment transportation and labor costs, plus the intangible benefit of going back to basics and allowing Soldiers to hone their skills by performing the work themselves," he said.
The Soldiers welcome the additional training.
"I think it's good practice for our craft." It will make me and my team more proficient. It's important that we all hone our skills," said Sgt. Kasim Kennerly, the noncommissioned officer-in- charge. "I've only served in the Army two years, so I always welcome any opportunity to improve my craft."
"This is what they do. They get to work on what they love and they know they are saving the Army money," he said. "After 11 years of war, we definitely need to get back to the basics. That's what's going to move us forward."