Army Field Support Brigade executes Left Behind Equipment mission

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LEGHORN ARMY DEPOT, Italy — The 3rd Bn., 405th Army Field Support Brigade inducted vehicles belonging to the 173rd ABCT into its left behind equipment program. (U.S/ Army photo by Capt. Michael Kistler)

LEGHORN ARMY DEPOT, Italy — Angelo Borelli, support operations for the 3/405th Army Field Support Brigade, completes inventory paperwork for the 172d ABCT. (U.S. Armyh photo by Capt. Michael Kistler)

LEGHORN ARMY DEPOT, Italy — The 3/405th AFSB is executing a Left Behind Equipment South of the Alps mission on behalf of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, which is stationed in Vicenza, Italy. The unit sent more than 1,000 pieces of equipment to the battalion for induction into the LBE program. The LBE program is designed to care for a unit's equipment while the unit is deployed. The program covers all aspects of a unit’s materiel, including vehicles and other equipment such as radios and storage containers. Through the program, the 405th AFSB maintains the equipment that the unit does not take with them.

"We have more than 450 pieces of rolling stock and more than 800 pieces of secondary items for the 173rd ABCT," said Capt. Michael Kistler, assistant program manager for LBE in Italy. "The unit has inducted a variety of equipment into the program, including HMMWVs, trailers, parachute harnesses and camouflage netting." (Rolling stock refers to wheeled and tracked vehicles, such as HMMWVs and trailers. Secondary items are all other type of equipment.)

While the unit is deployed, the equipment may be issued to other units, but each unit will receive replacement pieces when it returns from theater. Because the equipment may be issued to another unit, exact inventory records are crucial in order for the returning unit to receive the same types and pieces of equipment that it leaves behind. The LBE program is designed to provide returning units with 10/20 standard equipment upon their return, ensuring that the units are fully mission capable as soon as they return to Europe.

The LBE inventory process for the unit was adjusted to mitigate the travel and expense of everyone involved.

"Because of the distance between the unit and LAD, the unit sent its property to LAD with the accompanying documentation," Kistler explained. "We maintain property accountability with the transport documents and then check that the previously sent property accountability documents match the equipment. We make any adjustments as necessary in coordination with the unit property book officer and the current owner of the equipment, and then we sign and scan the documentation back to the unit. Once the paperwork is signed, the Property Book Unit Supply Enhanced transfer is completed."

The LBE process in Italy may sound highly administrative, but it actually benefits the soldier. "This process saves the 173rd ABCT soldiers a four-hour drive each way across Italy to transfer equipment and allows them to spend that time focusing on their upcoming mission," Kistler said. "This same business model is being applied to other units that are being inducted into the LBE program that are stationed in the Vicenza area of operations."

Furthermore, because the LBE program is designed to enable the units to have early induction, the soldiers benefit even further. "The 173rd ABCT is very cramped for space," Kistler commented. "In fact, the soldiers have to double-stack their equipment storage containers in order to have room for everything. By sending us their LBE items as early as possible during their mission preparation, they had more operating room in their location. The LBE induction greatly helped them in getting stay behind equipment out of their way and into maintenance, allowing them to have ample room for mission preparation."

The battalion is proud of its success with its LBE program. "Since our LBE program in Italy is slightly different in execution than in other parts of the world, we're satisfied that we have created a program here that benefits the soldiers in our area of operations," said Lt. Col. (Promotable) Roger McCreery, commander of the 3/405th AFSB. "Our job is to help the soldier prepare for operations in theater, and by allowing them to have a quick and seamless LBE induction process, they are able to focus on the important matters in preparation for deployment – mission requirements and family needs. Our LBE program enables them to get their stay behind equipment out of their way quickly and painlessly."

In addition to executing LBE for the 173rd ABCT, the 3/405th AFSB handled LBE induction for the 14th Transportation Headquarters & Headquarters Company, which is also stationed in Vicenza.

"The induction for the 14th Transportation HHC is complete," Kistler said. "Items were sent from Vicenza to LAD in the same method that we used for the 173rd ABCT. We received more than 20 pieces of equipment from the unit, including generators and decontamination systems."

In addition to inducting units into the LBE program, the battalion also reissues equipment to returning units. The 3/405th AFSB recently completed a reissue of equipment for the 99th Movement Control Team, headquartered at Aviano Air Base, Italy.

"The 99th MCT had previously inducted their items into the LBE program in December of 2008," Kistler explained. "The unit received all of the equipment that they had inducted into the program, including HMMWVs, at 10/20 standards. We maintained their equipment for them during their absence. Their HMMWVs were in the RECAP program, and the unit was extremely excited to receive ‘like new’ vehicles upon their return."

The U.S. Army Sustainment Command, the command headquarters for the 405th AFSB, is responsible for all U.S. Army LBE programs worldwide, including operations in Hawaii, Alaska, Korea and Europe.

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