News: 316th Soldiers Assist Downsizing Efforts
Story by Staff Sgt. Peter Berardi
AFGHANISTAN - Teams of soldiers with the 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) have been hard at work assisting with vehicle and equipment retrograde operations at bases across Afghanistan over the past couple of months.
The 316th soldiers in Afghanistan work as part of Redistribution Property Assistance Teams. The teams inspect Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, containers, other vehicles and non-rolling equipment for ammunition, explosives, brass or anything else that may prevent vehicles or equipment from passing through customs once sent back to the U.S.
The equipment retrograde is a collaborative effort between all strategic partners across the Department of Defense. The 1st Sustainment Command (Theater) is responsible for managing the retrograde of equipment out of the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
“Our soldiers are working with Reserve, National Guard, active Army, Navy customs, DOD civilians and contractors,” said 1st Lt. Alan Eberhart, a Pittsburgh resident and the officer in charge of the 316th team. “There are a lot of different pieces to this and our Soldiers have really come together well, and have been working well with all of the players in the system.”
Each piece of equipment goes through multiple, in depth, hands-on inspections before customs will clear it for travel out of Afghanistan.
“It’s a very detailed process,” said Staff Sgt. Ramon Delgado, a resident of Bronx, N.Y. and of a member of the 316th assigned to one of the RPATs. “We inspect every vehicle multiple times to ensure they are properly cleared. We give them an initial inspection to ensure they are safe to work on. Following this, internal equipment is removed and then we inspect again, then the vehicles are sent to the wash rash followed by another inspection. After all of that, they get one final check before being sent through customs.”
The RPATs have helped inspect and move a large amount of equipment, maintaining good use of taxpayer dollars.
“Some days we will have over 50 vehicles come through just our location,” said Spc. Patrick Claybaugh, a resident of Belle Vernon, Pa. and a member of the 316th assigned to one of the RPATs. “We stay busy as possible, if we aren’t doing ammo inspections we will work on customs inspections.”
“After trucks come in they are staged and ready for travel out of Afghanistan in no more than nine days,” said Hamilton. “Our group has done over 1,000 inspections so far and is on pace to do over 2,500 during our time on this mission.”
Currently, the U.S. has about $48 billion worth of equipment in Afghanistan. This includes more than 35,000 vehicles and over 95,000 shipping containers. It is estimated that redeployment will cost a fraction of the value of the equipment. This makes redeployment good stewardship of taxpayer funds and government property and it protects the American taxpayers’ long-term investment in high-quality military equipment, said a Maj. Thomas Campbell, 1st TSC deputy public affairs officer.
At the same time our soldiers and Army civilians will continue to work together with units in the fight to provide steadfast logistical support, helping them remain agile on the battlefield while Afghan National Security Forces continue to take the lead in securing a stable and peaceful future for Afghanistan, said Campbell.
“Our ammo abatement mission allows us to clear customs in neighboring countries without incident as we retrograde our equipment back to the U.S.,” said Col. Bruce Hackett, a resident of Pittsburgh and the deputy commander of the 316th. “The innovative procedures that our young Soldiers have developed, coupled with their adaptability has helped produce and refine the standard operating procedures for this critical mission.”