After it redeployed to Germany from Iraq, the 440th Signal
Battalion spent 9 arduous months reestablishing proper command
During a recent 12-month deployment to support Operation Iraqi
Freedom, the command supply discipline of the 440th Signal
Battalion, an element of the 22d Signal Brigade in Darmstadt,
Germany, was challenged many times. For example, equipment
was lost en route to Iraq, and several key logistics positions
were unfilled, including the battalion property book officer
(PBO) and several company supply sergeant positions. To make
property accountability even more difficult, the battalion
had to conduct a change-of-command inventory while its equipment
was spread across Iraq, and it had to migrate from the Army’s
legacy property book system, known as the Standard Property
Book System-Redesign, to the new Property Book Unit Supply
Enhanced (PBUSE) system.
The battalion cleared these hurdles, but command supply discipline suffered.
After returning to Germany, it took the battalion 9 months to reestablish proper
command supply discipline. Budgetary constraints impeded the battalion’s
ability to replace damaged, missing, or obsolete equipment. Battalion leaders
learned that replenishing a unit after a year-long deployment was difficult
without adequate financial resources and proper prioritization. Missions cannot
be accomplished if equipment is inoperable, incomplete, unavailable, or obsolete.
To help mitigate the equipment shortfalls, leaders must provide time on unit
training calendars to teach Soldiers proper command supply discipline. Just
as “maintenance is training” for the Soldiers performing it, “logistics
is training” for the Soldiers who participate in logistics activities,
such as monitoring the unit’s property and managing equipment transactions.
Since returning from Iraq, battalion, company, platoon, and
team leaders in the 440th Signal Battalion have learned the
value of proper command supply discipline.
Although none of the leaders would be anxious to go through the process of
reestablishing proper command supply discipline again, all
probably would agree that the experience
made them more effective leaders and better custodians of Army property. After
months of relentless supply emphasis, Soldiers and leaders alike know what
it means to have an effective command supply discipline program.
Lessons they learned
• If possible, ensure that the company commander is assigned before deployment
so that a change-of-command inventory will not be necessary during that deployment.
Inventorying in the field generally leads to poor change-of-responsibility inventories
that ultimately result in violations of Army Regulation (AR) 735–5, Policies
and Procedures for Property Accountability, and possible relief actions.
• Assign a logistics liaison team to the sea port of debarkation to ensure
that all equipment shipped is actually received. If equipment is not received
on time, the team should investigate and possibly initiate a financial liability
investigation. Do not wait until the deployment is completed and the unit has
returned to home station to take action. This is a big mistake!
• Take necessary measures to ensure that your unit has a PBO assigned to
monitor unit property and a supply sergeant to manage all logistics transactions,
including those in the rear detachment.
• If possible, do not migrate to a new property accountability system
until all rear and forward property accountability records have been reconciled.
• Make sure that unit supply sergeants keep up with logistics administrative
actions and documentation. Historical records are essential when reconciling
of B Company, 440th Signal Battalion, fold a general-purpose
tent during property book operations in preparation
Below, a specialist
with A Company, 440th Signal Battalion, counts camouflage
screen support system stakes in order to adjust the
brigade property book.
The Army standard for maintaining and tracking supplies is to treat the property
as if it were your own. The Army Command Supply Discipline Program (CSDP),
which is implemented by AR 710–2, Supply Policy Below the National
Level, is the embodiment of that standard. The CSDP provides Soldiers and
a common set of rules for safeguarding scarce resources.
Many Soldiers and leaders believe that they have no responsibility or culpability
for Army property unless they have accepted it on a hand receipt. This is a
myth. Every Soldier has some level of responsibility for property in his unit.
The commander has command responsibility as soon as he takes command. A platoon
leader or section chief has supervisory responsibility once he assumes his
position. Squad leaders, team chiefs, and staff officers in charge and noncommissioned
officers in charge incur this same supervisory responsibility. Soldiers have
direct responsibility if they have physical control of property or if they
have signed for it on a hand receipt. Soldiers who sign a hand receipt are
accountable for all components of items listed on the hand receipt unless
they receive a valid shortage annex that lists components that are not available
for issue. Without a valid shortage annex, an item is assumed to be complete.
The final type of responsibility, personal responsibility, should be inherent
in all members of the Armed Forces.
Signal Brigade property book noncommissioned officer
in charge processes hand-receipt adjustment
documents using the Property Book Unit Supply Enhanced
These four types of responsibility are linked to one common goal: the proper
care, use, and safeguarding of Army property. These responsibilities are a
cornerstone of sound leadership; they cannot be delegated, withdrawn, or ignored.
responsibilities are assumed with or without a written hand receipt. The CSDP
allows commanders to set a climate in which supply policies are enforced. It
establishes an environment in which Soldiers and leaders can manage property
proactively and requisition supplies and equipment. Soldiers and leaders who
are responsible for equipment must know their equipment, its whereabouts,
and its status. When one person deviates from the standard of maintaining,
and safeguarding Army property, the CSDP is compromised.
The bottom line is that the Army has a proven, time-tested process for managing
property. By following the CSDP and providing proper command emphasis to its
enforcement, your unit will have the lethal resources needed to fight and win
Chief Warrant Officer (W–3) Anthony L. Rawlings is the Property
Book Officer for the 440th Signal Battalion, 22d Signal Brigade, in Darmstadt,
Germany. He has an associate’s degree in business administration from Central
Texas College and is a graduate of the Warrant Officer Basic Course, the Property
Book Unit Supply-Enhanced Administrator Course, the Standard Property Book System-Redesign
Course, the Unit Level Logistics System-S4 Course, and the Total Army Instructor