The 21st Theater Army Area Command (TAACOM), Kaiserslautern, Germany, has been in the "getting rid of excess equipment" business for some time. As the drawdown in Europe comes to a close and the restructuring of the remaining force continues, a primary consideration is the retrograde of excess equipment in a way that will not be detrimental to force readiness.
Prepo afloat and prepo ashore are two programs that pre-position materiel conveniently close to where the potential or probable need is anticipated. In prepo afloat, equipment required for a heavy brigade and the initial theater logistics base is pre-positioned onboard 12 ships located at strategic locations at sea. This enables the Army to deploy rapidly to future hot spots when necessary. In prepo ashore, similar equipment is pre-positioned on land in Kuwait in Southwest Asia.
The final installment of equipment slated for pre-positioning in Kuwait was shipped last April. Additional equipment will be shipped only as needed to replace equipment already there.
Captain Robert Grundy was the 21st TAACOM prepo ashore project officer. "We were told by Department of the Army what to provide and what the timeline was for providing it," he said. "Most of this equipment is not new, but it is in perfect working condition."
The prepo ashore program pre-positioned 842 pieces of rolling stock, including everything from M1 tanks to Bradley fighting vehicles and M113 armored personnel carriers to trailers. Approximately 6,300 secondary items, such as burners for mobile kitchen trailers, .50-caliber weapons, and tents, were also shipped. In fiscal year 1994, costs for inland transportation, parts, and overtime associated with prepo ashore were $2.9 million. This figure was expected to drop to $1.1 million in fiscal year 1995.
Some of the equipment in the prepo ashore program became available when corps units in U.S. Army, Europe, were deactivated. However, most of the equipment came from Combat Equipment Group, Europe (CEGE), and reserve storage activities (RSA) in Kaiserslautern and Germersheim, Germany. Once identified as excess, the corps and RSA equipment was moved to maintenance facilities at Germersheim and Kaiserslautern and repaired to meet Army standards. CEGE equipment was repaired at the storage location. Inspectors provided by the 29th Area Support Group's directorate of quality assurance and 51st Maintenance Battalion checked the equipment to ensure that it met the Army's standards before it was shipped to Kuwait.
Critical to the success of the prepo ashore program is maintaining the operational readiness of the equipment so that it will be immediately available for use by combat commanders during contingency operations. The equipment is stored at Camp Doha, Kuwait. A civilian contractor maintains the equipment according to Army standards and issues it to units that rotate to Kuwait for maneuvers. When their maneuvers are completed, unit maintenance personnel repair damaged equipment, if possible, before turn-in. However, the civilian contractor is ultimately responsible for maintaining the equipment in combat-ready condition.
Captain Grundy believes that having the equipment pre-positioned in Kuwait will undoubtedly serve as a deterrent against Iraqi aggression. "They know we have a brigade's worth of equipment that is in a high state of readiness," he said. "That is one part of this mission that has never been secret," he added. "We want the whole world to know that we have a lot of equipment in Kuwait, and we are prepared to use it if anything flares up." ALOG
Master Sergeant Debra D. Arden is assigned to the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs, Department of the Army, Washington, D.C. She was previously assigned as Chief of Media Relations for the 21st Theater Army Area Command, Kaiserslautern, Germany. Master Sergeant Arden has a bachelor of science degree in psychology from the University of Maryland in College Park. The author thanks Captain Robert Grundy for providing the photo accompanying this article.