I am concerned about the continuing and repetetive changes to modification tables of organization and equipment (MTOEs) and the impact those changes are having on unit operations.
I am a chief supply sergeant who maintains CBS-X, asset visibility, and other supply data for subordinate units in the command. Although our MTOE changes are forecasted for 2 years out, the units must implement new MTOEs on an annual basis. This results in unit supply sergeants retrieving and preparing items of equipment for turn-in or lateral transfer, only to find they have to order the same items for receiving 365 days out, depending on the force activity designator (FAD) and urgency of need designator (UND). [A FAD identifies and categorizes a force or activity on the basis of its military importance. Ranking from high to low is expressed as I to V.] This command has FAD units ranging from II to V. As you can imagine, these changes in equipment requirements create a major workload for the unit. It is particularly frustrating when an equipment requirement is deleted one year and then, 2 years later, the same item, or a substitution, is restored to the MTOE.
Ten years ago when I was a unit supply sergeant, a unit maintained the same MTOE for a longer period of time. Today, however, I'm having to instruct my supply sergeants to move equipment each year, which also affects a commander's unit status reporting (although that is another whole story).
A lot of effort goes into reviewing a new MTOE received from the Department of the Army and working the unit characteristics to match the new MTOE. I would like to know what is going on. Are annual MTOE changes a part of the Army's transformation process? Why are we deleting an item one year and adding it back to the MTOE 2 years later? It is not easy to train soldiers to use equipment when it comes and goes so quickly.
It is a logistical nightmare out here, and it just doesn't make sense to us soldiers in the trenches.
MSG Antonio P. Colon, FLARNG
I wasn't surprised to hear that a recovery vehicle variant of the LAV would not be produced. The M88A2 took 15 years from the time the M1 was inducted into the Army to make its debut. I am presently serving in Kosovo with the 1st Armored Division. I have had to use the M998 and M1026 as my primary recovery assets due to the limited width, weight capacity, and conditions of the roads. The Norwegians who serve in our sector have a similar vehicle to the LAV3 and have been able to go just about anywhere with it. Unfortunately, the M984A1 cannot go where the Norwegians go because of its length and turning radius. I understand that each LAV will have its own winch, but so does every M1114. My section frequently pulls M1114's out of ditches, off their tops, and out of the ravines we find them in. I'm wondering how long it will take the Army to throw another recovery vehicle together because the need arose for it, and will it be a dud because it was thrown together in a hurry and not given the same testing as the other LAVs? I'm afraid I will spend more time working on my vehicle instead of working on the vehicles assigned to my care. I know I sound cynical, but as an M88A1 driver, and now recovery section supervisor, I have seen the Army's concern for recovery assets. It usually shows itself at 0300 when someone is stuck or broke down. The MTOE for an infantry battalion has each maintenance team chief riding in an M113. Why not add a useful boom and a winch with more capacity than the normal LAV? The team chief could fix more on site and would have to defer less to the unit maintenance control point. That's multiplying your combat strength with every vehicle you keep in the fight.
I understand there are many officers in the Army who are assigned to strategize the battles of the future. I just wonder if the battles to come have a footnote stating "for paved roads only," because that's what we're preparing for.
SSG John Novotny
I have some comments regarding the letter from Thomas R. Welch in the March-April 2001 issue.
Prior to April 1992, not all repair parts were free issue. Only those items considered as procurement appropriation, Army-secondary items (PAA-2) were free issue to consumers. Those items were funded at the wholesale level.
As of 1 October 1990, all previously PAA-2 funded items, which include depot-level reparables (DLRs), field-level reparables (FLRs), consumables, and other items, were aligned to the stock fund. When implementation of the stock fund was completed, Army items were accounted for at the wholesale level in three ways: as major items (including ammunition), consumable stock funded items, and reparable stock funded items.
The plan to stock fund the items previously funded by PAA-2 requires an understanding of the way the funding structure changed. The PAA-2 accounts were established to procure DLRs, and the stock fund account was chartered to procure FLRs and consumables. Under the stock fund depot level reparables (SFDLR) plan, all secondary items were realigned into two categories, reparables and consumables, both under the stock fund account.
The main purpose of the Army's SFDLR program was to enable the Army to meet the requirements of Defense Management Report Decision 904C within established timeframes and constraints. This was to be accomplished in three initiatives. The first initiative of the SFDLR program was to improve discipline, management, and visibility of DLR items. The second initiative of the SFDLR program was to obtain the benefits of a single funding source for procurement and wholesale maintenance of all secondary items. And the third initiative of the SFDLR program was to make it easier to link costs to weapons systems.
Mr. Welch states that it was a drawback for direct support and general support maintenance activities to repair items rather than sending them back to a depot for repair. That was one of the purposes for doing away with the "free issue" reparable. When it was considered as "free issue" by the commander, he had no real incentive to repair an item. Under the SFDLR program, it was more cost effective to repair than buy a new or rebuilt item from the wholesale system. Those items that were on the depot repair list were automatically returned for repair (automatic return items). Also, within SARSS-O, programs and procedures are in place to ensure that reparable items are returned to the supply system for repair. It is up to logisticians at all levels to include commanders to ensure that the system works.
I started in the Army supply system in the days of stubby pencils (1956); today, in the position I am in now, I welcome all the changes brought about by SFDLR, SARSS-O, GCSS-Army, and SSF. They are much-needed improvements for the Army and the soldier in the future. We can make it work.
Jerry L. Brooks
Fort Eustis, Virginia
The unsigned letter titled "I Don't Understand Either" certainly hit home. Having been involved with processing reports of survey for many years, I am thoroughly disgusted. The process is a sham. The author is right in that, statistically, higher graded enlisted and officers are seldom found liable while junior enlisted are. The reason is simple: Rank has its privileges.
The writer's comment about not understanding why soldiers will not take responsibility for their actions and sign a statement of charges is probably untrue. It seldom occurs, but does the author in fact know why? No one wants to lose any money, and senior people know they can argue the issue and usually get it dropped by the commander or sympathetic lawyers (advisors to the commander). Unless you are junior grade; then, apparently, you need to be taught a lesson.
Here in my unit, we seldom recoup enough funding to cover the wages of the program manager, let alone the cost of the advisors and the commander reviewing each action. The letter writer is right in that commanders would take more interest if the recovered monies could be returned to the unit, but since they would just go back to the Treasury, there is no incentive.
We would become more efficient by eliminating the report of survey program. It doesn't work anyway.
Fort Sam Houston, Texas
I, too, identify with the individual who wrote the article, "I Don't Understand Either," in the March-April 2001 issue. However, let's be clear on what the regulation says. Formal property book records will be maintained for property with a unit cost of $300 or more and expendable property authorized by tables of organization and equipment (TOEs), modification tables of organization and equipment (MTOEs), and tables of distribution and allowances (TDAs) including augmentation and deployable, common tables of allowances (CTAs) deployable property, and/or special authority as organizational property. I can go on and list the Federal Supply Classes (FSCs) that require property accountability based on dollar amount; however, commanders and property book officers may designate items as pilferable or otherwise require property book accounting for items they feel need to go back on the books. Commanders are still required to maintain hand receipts down to user level for equipment no longer required to be on the property book. The commander must understand that he still is responsible for Government property used by him and his military and civilian personnel.
What I consider a bigger problem is the property that is turned over to private contractors for use during the period of a contract. There are more activities contracting out these days, but there is no standard property accountability system for the Government property used by contractors. I believe that, within a year after turning the equipment over to the contractor, Defense activities no longer have a clear view of what the contractors have on hand. Thus, there is a possibility of losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment.
I believe all Department of Defense (DOD) contractors should immediately be put on the Defense Property Accountability System (DPAS). Let's use a standard system for all contractors. Already I can hear the contracting folks saying, "the FAR [Federal Acquisition Regulation] says this" and "the FAR says that." Folks: the bottom line is, we need to be accountable. We need to have visibility of the property that is in the hands of contractors. We need to ensure that contractors record and report property, plant, and equipment (PP&E) information on the DOD property in their possession. Another advantage of putting contractors on DPAS is that they will be able to report to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). The answer is DPAS.
Charles E. Willyard, Jr.
Fort Irwin, California