Establishing visibility of stay-behind equipment
is time consuming
and can even pose a danger to the Soldiers involved.
Property managers are the cornerstone of property accountability
discipline throughout the theater of operations. They are
a vital link in the supply chain on which the Multinational
Coalition-Iraq (MNC–I), the Combined Forces Land Component
Command (CFLCC), major support commands (MSCs), and the Department
of the Army (DA) depend to get an accurate picture of equipment
that is on the ground. Efforts to attain total asset visibility
in the theater of operations began yesterday; today, we must “lean
forward” to maintain and improve total asset visibility
in current and future operations.
Before I deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) III, I knew
that it was difficult to gain visibility of stay-behind equipment (SBE) that
had been deployed during OIF I. However, I did not realize the severity of the
problem until I had served as the property book officer for Headquarters, Corps
Distribution Command, 1st Corps Support Command, for 30 days or so.
My predecessor had used the Standard Property Book System-Redesign (SPBS–R),
a system that has been around for over a decade. With SPBS–R, equipment
is tracked by property book unit identification code (UIC) or installation
code. Unfortunately, SPBS–R was of little help in resolving the ongoing
SBE visibility problem because it could be manipulated easily by substituting
inaccurate line numbers for primary line numbers in order to maintain a high
unit status report rating for equipment on hand.
To establish visibility of SBE in theater, we had to conduct extensive research
to obtain data on equipment deployed during OIF I and enter the data into the
newly fielded Property Book and Unit Supply-Enhanced (PBUSE) system.
Although PBUSE did not completely solve our visibility problems, it has some
distinct advantages over SPBS–R. A significant advantage of PBUSE is that
equipment transfers can be made before units arrive in country. If a deploying
unit’s property book officer does not deploy, there is no need for supply
sergeants to hand-carry unit transfer request disks and a copy of the primary
hand receipt to the forward property book officer as was done in the past. Instead,
the rear property book officer can process the transfer with only the UIC of
the forward property book. This process takes a matter of minutes and allows
the forward property book officer to review the hand receipt before the unit
arrives. When the unit arrives in country, the hand receipt is ready for the
primary hand receipt holder (usually the unit commander) to sign.
In the stand-alone mode, PBUSE can be linked to tactical networks using satellite
communications, which allows units to use the system to synchronize data while
in transit. However, bandwidth problems sometimes make it difficult to connect
to the NIPRNet (Unclassified but Sensitive Internet Protocol Router Network)
in the stand-alone mode because PBUSE often times out before NIPRNet connectivity
is made. Having a Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) would be a big help to
units that are de-ployed in areas where NIPRNet or SIPRNet (Secret Internet
Protocol Router Network) connectivity is sporadic.
Processing Military Standard Requisitioning and Issue Procedures (MILSTRIP) transactions
in the supply support activity (SSA) is challenging because it is difficult
to maintain file transfer protocol (FTP) connectivity. To make file transfer
more efficient, all PBUSE systems should have static Internet protocol (IP) addresses
(permanent numeric identifications that are assigned by the network administrator
to a node in an IP network) and operators in the SSA must be fully trained on
the processes involved in migrating SPBS–R data to PBUSE.
Some equipment visibility problems are personnel driven. For example, when I
arrived in theater, property book UICs and type authorization codes were not
being thoroughly validated or were often inaccurate. More than 90 of the 400
hand receipt accounts at Camp Victory and approximately 70 of the 300 accounts
at Logistics Support Area Anaconda were delinquent. Some unit commanders had
not conducted monthly inventories or signed their initial installation property
book hand receipts.
Total asset visibility in a theater of operations remains a problem. Headquarters,
DA, can see only the assets that have automatically migrated or been entered
manually into PBUSE. The accountability process will not work unless commanders
take an active role and ensure that all property is on the appropriate property book
and keep the property book officer abreast of transactions that must be processed
if a discrepancy exists. Property managers must ensure that the correct property
book identification codes and type authorization codes are entered when using
Chief Warrant Officer (W–3) Khuntae RaeGail Burke
is the Property Book Officer for Headquarters, Corps Distribution
Command, 1st Corps Support Command,
Fort Bragg, North Carolina, which is currently deployed to Iraq. She has a
bachelor’s degree in social science from the University of Maryland University
College and a master’s degree in human relations from the University
of Oklahoma (Norman campus). She is a 16-year Army veteran.