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    Photo By Sgt. Aaron Ellerman | Maj. Elizabeth Gum, 1st Theater Sustainment Command liaison officer to class VIII...... read more read more



    Story by Spc. Aaron Ellerman 

    1st Theater Sustainment Command

    NEW KABUL COMPOUND, Afghanistan—“Practice makes perfect.”

    The expression holds true in the medical field where relying on ones practice and experience can be the difference between life and death for a patient. Caregivers must execute complex tasks without hesitation, and through practice their skills come as second nature.

    Practice to become proficient can be expensive, especially in the medical field where supplies and training aides needed to simulate real life scenarios are often costly, one time use items.

    Maj. Elizabeth Gum, 1st Theater Sustainment Command liaison officer to class VIII (medical supply) USCENTCOM Materiel Recovery Element (CMRE) along with 20 soldiers spread throughout Afghanistan in the 82nd CMRE Medical logistics (Medlog) team, 1103rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, and 418th Medical Logistics Company are helping to provide these needed training aides through the salvaging of medical supplies in theater.

    Retrograde is a cost-effective yet complex process. The CMRE was established to facilitate and manage the redeployment and retrograde of U.S. forces and equipment from Afghanistan. U.S. assets represent an estimated 75 percent of military equipment in Afghanistan: The National Defense Authorization Act 2013 prescribes what and how these items can be transferred.

    “Our mission is to support Class VIII retrograde operations and enhance reutilization efforts in order to reduce the medical materiel footprint in theater,” said 1st Lt. Jaime Daniels, officer-in-charge of the 82nd Sustainment Brigade Medlog element, and a Fayetville, N.C. native.

    “We receive, inspect, condition code, turn-in and re-issue Class VIII material throughout theater,” said Sgt. 1st Class John S. Allen, noncommissioned officer in charge for CL VIII CMRE and the 418th Medical Logistics Company.

    While facilitating the retrograde of medical materiel in theater Gum and her team learned of an excess amount of useable medical materiel being turned into the retrosort yards. This materiel, after sitting unclaimed at the retrosort yard for approximately two weeks, was being sent to the Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services (DLA-DS) for disposition.

    Upon seeing the benefits that the usable materiel could provide Gum and her team acted to save the goods.

    “My team and I were moved to rescue the medical materiel in good condition and recycle it to support new missions instead of sending it to the DLA-DS,” said Gum. “Knowing how expensive the materiel is and how many units don’t even have budgets to buy the same items for training, my team and I were driven to intervene.”

    Gum and her team are the first in Afghanistan to start a program aimed at saving viable unclaimed free issue medical supplies. They pioneered this new process while simultaneously completing their main task of facilitating medical retrograde in theater.

    “Our team is intervening and reintroducing materiel to support medical units and civilian entities,” said Gum. The materiel we are cross leveling is saving lives every day, reducing demands on the distribution and materiel reduction enablers, and also providing a cost avoidance opportunity for U.S. and Afghan forces.”

    “We have built this process from the ground up,” said Allen. My soldiers have inherited a great challenge and have proved to be absolute professionals.”

    The team consists of three main components working together to accomplish their goal. Gum operates as the team’s lead and is responsible for coordination between the team and other agencies.

    “My primary mission is to facilitate reduction of medical materiel in theater while advising various stakeholders on progress and planning,” said Gum. “I market the availability of medical resources turned in by outgoing units and facilitate the connection between units requesting items off the free issue.”

    The second part of the team is the MEDLOG component which consists of two teams at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan and Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. These teams consist of medical logistic specialists and biomedical equipment specialist who sort through medical equipment being turned in at the retrosort yards within each base.

    “My MEDLOG team has sorted and salvaged thousands of dollars worth of supplies from redeploying medical teams, hospitals and retrosort yards,” said Daniels.

    The third part of the team is the retrosort yards run by the 1003rd CSSB and 82nd SB. The soldiers working at the two yards located in Bagram and Kandahar manage the incoming and outgoing materiel, sorting containers and sending the materials to their appropriate destination.

    The team has faced many challenges while establishing their newly formed program and through much trial and error they have established an efficient operating system.

    “ I had to demonstrate the importance of allowing the MEDLOG team to continue our search and rescue efforts to find the good class VIII and pass it onto those who valued it,” said Gum.

    Fortunately both Col. Mark D. Collins, 82nd SB CMRE Commander, and Col. David Koon, 1003rd CSSB Commander, respected this initiative and approved supporting both Coalition forces and the Afghan medical infrastructure through the free issue program.”

    “A big challenge we faced in the beginning was figuring out the best and quickest way to get the word out about the class VIII materiel we had salvaged,” said Daniels. “Once we got people’s attention we had to determine the best way to redistribute what we had. With the help of the Medical community and word of mouth we finally started getting people interested.”

    Recently more than $640,000 of medical materiel have been claimed for Army, Air Force, Afghan National Security Forces, United States Agency for International Development, and non-governmental organizations through the teams’ efforts and another $207,000 dollars worth of medical materiel is awaiting turnover to Afghan elements.

    Due to the team’s hard work and accomplishments an exception to policy has been granted by the State Department stating that expendable medical supplies are exempt from the FEPP process. This reduces the turnaround time to Afghan entities by approximately four weeks.

    According to Gum at least $25 million of medical materiel is projected for disposition over the next year. Without intervention by her team the materiel will be lost.



    Date Taken: 01.25.2014
    Date Posted: 01.25.2014 09:21
    Story ID: 119650
    Location: AF
    Hometown: FAYETTEVILLE, NC, US

    Web Views: 357
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