INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey –
Since the dawn of human warfare, logistics and supply have influenced the outcome of countless battles. The ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu wrote about logistics in his work, The Art of War, saying “the line between disorder and order is logistics.”
An indispensable part of military logistics is individual protective equipment. From ancient Roman armor to modern bullet-proof vests, IPE has protected warriors for millennia.
Today, IPE Airmen at the 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron continue the time-honored tradition of providing life-saving gear to their comrades. It is a service easily forgotten … until a mission occurs requiring it.
“Your uniform just by itself can’t protect you; a paper towel over your face can’t protect you,” said Tech. Sgt. Clarence Black, who serves as the 39th LRS non-commissioned officer in charge of IPE. “Our gear, along with the knowledge to use it properly, will ensure the member does not only fire bullets down range, but also enables Airmen to get to a safe area and build an appropriate response.”
In a nutshell, IPE Airmen manage, store and track inventories of protective gear at the base supply warehouse. This equipment includes body armor, helmets, gas masks and chemical-resistant protective suits. They issue these items to permanent-party members who arrive at the base, fulfilling a regional requirement to ensure all Airmen have the means to protect themselves in case of an emergency.
Senior Airman Santia Baker, a 39th LRS IPE specialist, illustrated the crucial role her job and squadron play in global military operations, adding that serving in a strategic location such as Incirlik has helped her gain a renewed sense of appreciation and pride as a logistics Airman.
“I have seen a different side of the Air Force since coming here from a training base,” said Baker. “Logistics runs the world, and the Air Force is all over that world; you can’t fly without supply. It makes me feel good knowing I am supporting a great mission.”
Black stressed the importance of logistics and supply in every operation, referencing lessons he learned from his professional military education.
“When you study history, you will learn many wars were won because of logistics,” said Black. “We’re only as good as our ability to place assets. Without logistics as a whole, it will crush a lot of operations.”
Black encourages Airmen at Incirlik to examine their IPE, ensuring it fits and works properly. He summed up the importance of supply with a modified version of a popular slogan: “without supply you can’t fly; without supply you will die.”
Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the Incirlik Air Base website.