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New Equipment Fielding: What Can an AFSB Do for Me?

On today’s battlefield, having a single interface for sustainment logistics operations between the field and the materiel developer is of immeasurable value. This interface not only provides a stand-alone logistics capability that supports the warfighter, but it also puts into effect a materiel enterprise concept that integrates acquisition, logistics, and technology to protect, equip, and sustain joint and coalition forces in support of the theater of operations.

In the Iraqi theater, the 402d Army Field Support Brigade (AFSB) is that interface. Using an internal asset known as the Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Directorate (ALT−D), the AFSB can coordinate between the warfighter and the materiel developer to facilitate all fielding tasks and coordinate with external entities. The ALT−D has several focus areas, but one of its primary areas of responsibility is to support the integration, accountability, and sustainment of newly fielded equipment within the area of operations.

The directorate’s efforts have many moving pieces, including planning and coordinating for life support, facilities, and communications; shipping and receiving equipment; personnel support; and sustainment planning. ALT−D’s ability to orchestrate these actions not only provides a substantial benefit to U.S. Forces-Iraq but also provides program executive officers (PEOs) and program managers (PMs) a “no cost” initial entry point for coordinating essential fielding.

Coordinating Fieldings

All fieldings within theater begin and end with the U.S. Forces-Iraq J−3 Force Modernization Division, which directly coordinates with U.S. divisions to ensure appropriate synchronization in support of the warfighter’s mission. Fielding coordination is initiated with a notification of intent issued by the PM to the Iraqi theater. This action triggers subsequent planning meetings that include U.S. Forces-Iraq, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology liaison officer, and the AFSB ALT−D.

Once planning begins, several key tasks and common issues tend to arise. (See chart below.) By using the AFSB, the PEO and PM can support the overall intent—to meet the warfighting commanders’ requirements—while filling resource gaps through the receipt and retention of essential assets.

Pre-Execution Documentation

Essential pre-execution documentation is needed to support a successful fielding. This documentation includes the following:

  • A technology development plan, which is provided by the PM to ensure that essential fielding information is available.
  • A memorandum of notification, in which the specific fielding requirements are outlined.
  • A distribution plan, which provides a picture and description of the system being fielded, a summary of the fielding plan (including sustainment requirements), and the prioritized unit and division distribution.

Once this information has been provided, a fielding schedule is determined and coordinated among the various U.S. divisions.

Accountability

Accountability of theater-provided equipment (TPE) is managed by the theater property book office (TPBO). The TPBO cell is colocated with the 402d AFSB’s 2d Battalion and includes a chief warrant officer as the accountable officer, a Government civilian employee appointed as the deputy accountable officer, and contracted Property Book Unit Supply Enhanced (PBUSE) technicians. Currently, 13 theater property book (TPB) teams are located throughout the Iraqi theater to support units with TPE property accountability.

All TPE must be documented on the TPB, and PMs are required to establish a hand-receipt account within PBUSE. Before equipment is brought into the theater, it is imperative that PMs populate equipment to be fielded into PBUSE using derivative unit identification codes. The TPBO is a tremendous asset and can provide a list of unit TPB accounts; a sample Department of the Army Form 3161, Request for Issue or Turn-In; and a point of contact list for all TPBOs in country.

The relationship between the warfighter and AFSB provides PEOs and PMs with timely and manageable accountability of fielded equipment, thus supporting their ability to meet schedule and cost requirements flawlessly.

Execution Support

The availability of support during the fielding process is a top priority for many PM offices. The questions most PMs want to have answered concern the life support and resources available to support the needs of their theater representatives. AFSB personnel understand that resources often can be the determining force in the success or failure of a particular fielding, so the AFSB is postured to provide coordinated support to a variety of areas.

Life support. How will PEO and PM personnel be supported? The AFSB staff is available to coordinate for life support and housing on forward operating bases (FOBs) that have a permanent AFSB footprint. Existing housing is provided, as space is available, for short-duration projects with small numbers of people. For large or long-term projects where requirements exceed available space, the AFSB can coordinate for housing in support of the PEO and PM.

Once large or long-term project coordination is completed, the project sponsor (the PEO or PM), based on theater fiscal policies, may be responsible for providing funding to purchase the housing units identified. These housing units will be managed by the AFSB and will be available for reallocation or reassignment following completion of the project.

On FOBs where the AFSB does not have a permanent footprint, the brigade has established logistics support elements (LSEs) and brigade logistics support teams (BLSTs), which are responsible for coordinating life support with the tenant operational unit or mayor’s cell.

Facilities. Where will PEO and PM personnel work? The AFSB also coordinates facilities for installation fielding missions throughout the theater. The brigade uses existing facilities to meet mission requirements to the maximum extent possible at no cost to the project sponsor (the PEO or PM). The AFSB is capable of coordinating land acquisition and facility construction if existing facilities are not available or do not meet mission requirements. Based on theater fiscal policies, the project sponsor (the PEO or PM) may be responsible for providing funding.

Special equipment. If the PEO or PM has special equipment requirements, how will they be supported? The AFSB can obtain special equipment, such as forklifts and overhead lifts, for fielding missions throughout the theater. The brigade recognizes that the PEO or PM is responsible for ensuring that its personnel are trained and licensed to operate any special equipment required to complete the mission.

The AFSB uses existing equipment to meet mission requirements to the maximum extent possible at no cost to the project sponsor (the PEO or PM). If existing equipment is not available or does not meet mission requirements, the AFSB will coordinate for the acquisition of the special equipment at a cost to the project sponsor. The brigade is postured to manage all special equipment and can ensure its reallocation or reassignment following the project’s completion.

Communication support. How will the PEO or PM communicate with its personnel once they begin fielding to the warfighter? Communication support is available with proper coordination on FOBs where the AFSB has a permanent footprint. The brigade has a number of phones and computers that can be used on a short-term basis by project personnel when resources are available.

Individuals choosing to use the Army Materiel Command (AMC) network must have at least a favorable national agency check on file in order to obtain a NIPRNET (Non-Secure Internet Protocol Router Network) account and a secret clearance if a SIPRNET (Secure Internet Protocol Router Network) account is required. PEO and PM personnel may choose to bring their own computers (desktop or laptop), but they must understand that configuration control will remain with the AFSB.

Equipment shipping and receiving. Who does the PEO or PM coordinate with to ensure equipment is received as it comes into the theater? Equipment shipping and receiving is an important part of the entire fielding process. As equipment is processed into the theater, it is imperative that it is tracked down to the lowest level of command. Transportation control numbers and radio frequency identification tags allow the AFSB to track and identify the location of equipment as it is being processed into the theater.

AFSB personnel can coordinate shipping, receiving, and temporary storage of equipment that is used for fielding, equipment upgrade, or sustainment operations within the theater. This support is easily managed at locations where the AFSB has a permanent footprint. For those locations where an AFSB footprint is not established, the brigade is prepared to coordinate necessary logistics support.

Personnel transportation. What type of transportation support is available as personnel travel throughout the theater in support of an upcoming fielding? Personnel supporting an AMC mission (fielding, training, sustainment, or liaison visits) can contact the AMC liaison desk upon arrival at Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait to coordinate transportation into the theater.

In the 402d AFSB, two emergency operations centers in Iraq (one located in Baghdad at Victory Base Complex and one at Joint Base Balad) can provide movement assistance. The administrative support personnel within the LSEs and BLSTs also can assist in arranging transportation to the various FOB locations once personnel are in the theater.

New Equipment Training

Before equipment is officially signed over to a unit, new equipment training (NET) must be conducted in conjunction with the materiel fielding. NET is the responsibility of the appropriate PEO or PM and facilitates the transfer of knowledge about equipment use and support requirements from the materiel developer to the users, trainers, and maintainers of the new equipment.

The PEO and PM NET teams can coordinate with the AFSB to arrange NET support to the gaining units for both operation and maintenance training. NET teams are attached to the AFSB, effective when they arrive at the airport or seaport of debarkation, for personnel accountability, tactical logistics (including movement), life support, and integration into the local force protection or security plan.

Transition to Sustainment

Sustainment support should be an integral part of any fielding process. With the AFSB’s assistance, PEOs and PMs can use existing maintenance and sustainment contract vehicles when planning for long-term sustainment. In many instances, limited depot-level repair capabilities exist at several of the forward repair activities. It can be very beneficial to plan for limited depot-level sustainment in the theater rather than having to transport all items requiring depot-level repair back to the continental United States.

The AFSB can assist in coordinating long-term sustainment support with the life-cycle management commands. It can also aid in developing a sustainment plan that is responsive to warfighter needs based on the unique operational constraints that exist in the theater. The AFSB also provides personnel who function as contracting officer’s representatives to provide in-country operational oversight of sustainment contracts and field service representatives.

The AFSB provides many support capabilities to PEOs and PMs. The extensive process needed to field an individual piece of equipment requires a systematic approach that includes everything from accountability and fielding coordination to sustainment requirements. This type of knowledge and expertise provides PEOs and PMs, the warfighter, and U.S. Forces-Iraq a combined “one-stop shop” for finding subject-matter experts and fielding points of contact who can answers the who, what, when, where, and how questions that inevitably arise during new equipment fielding.

Major Camilla A. Wood is the assistant director of acquisition, logistics, and technology in the 402d Army Field Support Brigade. She is level-3 certified in program management and previously served as assistant program manager for the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Program Office and Non-Line of Sight Launch System Project Office. She holds a B.A. degree from South Carolina State University and an M.S. degree in administration from Central Michigan University.


 
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