News | May 24, 2017

‘Ghost Brigade’s’ War on Excess

By Staff Sgt. Samuel Northrup 1-­2 SBCT, 7th Infantry Division

The 1­-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team has been taking part in an installation wide material management program to synchronize and execute material management actions and increase on hand equipment readiness.

The process included equipment alignment, lateral transfers, and excess turn­in so units can maximize equipment readiness across Joint Base Lewis­McChord, Wash. The process started at company levels and expanded to include all 1­-2 SBCT units. Units have also divested excess equipment to fill shortages off of JBLM.

“If transfers are not required within the brigade because everyone filled on the equipment, than the next step is to turn it in or ship it possibly to another post,” said Capt. Clayton Shillings, logistics director for 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry, 1­-2 SBCT.

The program, which is known as Unit Equipping and Reuse Working Group – Expanded (UERWG­E), was directed by Forces Command and began in September 2016 with the identification of excess equipment, according  to Maj. Joseph Baumbach, the logistics director for 1­-2 SBCT. The brigade began with 6,500 pieces of excess equipment and 4,642 need to be divested by July 9.

“A piece of equipment can go anywhere, from another company in the brigade to the Army National Guard or Reserve component units,” Baumbach said. “Wherever it’s needed. It can also go to depots or to the Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services where it will get stocked for future use or destroyed. *                      

“This program is important in order to modernize the Army,” he added. “It is forcing us to get rid of our legacy equipment, whether it is old NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) equipment, old communication equipment, or old soft­skinned vehicles, while retaining the newer equipment.”

The actions were all based on each unit’s formal organization document known as a modified table of organization and equipment, said Shillings. There may be a new weapon that is being issued and a unit has an older weapon sitting on the books in place of it, he said. By replacing and divesting equipment, the brigade can maintain readiness on an equal footing across the board.

“Getting rid of equipment that is excess also benefits us because we are not trying to perform maintenance on that equipment to keep it running or up-­to-­date,” said Shillings. “This saves time and money. If you have 20 weapons, but you only need 10. You can focus more on maintaining the 10 than on the 20, ensuring unit readiness.”

“We are only authorized to repair what is in our unit by MTOE, so anything excess will eat into our training dollars in order to fix,” said Baumbach. “Reducing the amount of excess equipment also reduces our budget constraints – making us a better fighting force by having more money available for training.”

The 1-­2 SBCT is the largest unit on JBLM to participate in UERWG­E, according to Baumbach. As of May 9, 2017, the unit has divested 3,075 out of 4,642 pieces of equipment ­­ 66 percent during the 11 weeks of conducting UERWG.

*Clarification:  items turned over to DLA Disposition Services can also go to DLA Distribution for restocking or be offered to any military unit for reuse.  Items are destroyed only if they are found to be no longer usable - or if no eligible excess property recipient wants them.