News: Army personnel take charge of warehouse operations
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Tina Eichenour
ALI AS SALEM AIR BASE, Kuwait - With the budget cuts, down-sizing the military presence in Afghanistan, and operating under budget constraints, the U.S. Army has been making changes at bases in Kuwait, especially at the Inceptor Body Armor Warehouse located at Ali As Salem Air Base Life Support Area.
In late 2012, Soldiers from the 38th Sustainment Brigade and the 47th Transportation Company took over warehouse operations that were previously ran by contractors saving taxpayer dollars.
Approximately $4 million a year is being saved according to Staff Sgt. Heather L. Smiechowski, IBA Warehouse non-commissioned officer in charge
“We replaced 36 contractors at the end of November with a team of 14 soldiers that were not trained as supply warehouse workers but took on the task,” said Smiechowski. “We have been able to streamline the processes implementing regulations to improve the processes from what the contractors were doing.”
The warehouse personnel receive IBA with ballistic plates and combat helmets from civilians, military and contracted government workers as they come in and out of the LSA. The customers are heading home from their tours of work in the region or going and coming from rest and relaxation leave and emergency leave through the Theater Gateway located at the LSA.
“Most of our customers are transitioning through from Afghanistan, mainly on R and R leave, they are our biggest customers,” said Smiechowski.
Smiechowski explained that with the downsizing of troops and contractors in Afghanistan and Kuwait area, the flow of customers has slowed down from, “approximately thousand a month last year at this time, to approximately 100 customers a month now.”
The warehouse does more than just store the IBAs with plates and combat helmets. When a customer comes in, whether on leave or at the end of their tour, their plates are exchanged for new ones.
“The old plates are turned in to be inspected to be determined if the plates are serviceable or unserviceable. If the plate is unserviceable it is sent to California for repair or to be destroyed. This process happens for every plate that comes into the warehouse,” said Smiechowski.
According to 1st Lt. Matthew Young, IBA Warehouse officer in charge, the Soldiers have learned multiple skills at the warehouse.
“The Soldiers of the 38th Sustainment Brigade and the 47th Transportation Company have gained an exponential amount of experience, and knowledge by working at this installation,” said Young. “They will be able to carry it with them throughout their Army careers.”