DLA provides repair-part support for Army’s new security force assistance brigade

By Beth Reece

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Defense Logistics Agency customer support representatives and members of DLA Land and Maritime are working with Army officials to equip the first of what’s expected to be six security force assistance brigades that will conduct advise-and-assist missions throughout the world.

The Army established the 1st SFAB at Fort Benning, Georgia, in October. Its mission-essential equipment list consists of almost 6,300 items and includes new gear such as the latest version of the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle and updated communications systems, as well as materiel not readily available because it’s deployed with other units.

As a result, much of the equipment being used to field the 1st SFAB is coming from surplus stock previously identified for turn-in to DLA Disposition Services through the Army’s All Army Excess initiative, said Phil Greene, a customer support representative who supports U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Relying on older equipment helps the Army avoid billions of dollars of new procurements, he said, but using equipment that was already available has resulted in an increased demand for spare parts needed to repair the materiel.

“The problem is that not all of this equipment is in the best condition. It’s used, and routine servicing and maintenance hasn’t been done on it in quite some time because units knew they weren’t going to keep it,” Greene said.

The Army requested DLA’s support in July for about 1,500 line items needed to fix the equipment, which is being repaired at Fort Stewart, Georgia.

“This equipment was supposed to come to us ‘10/20 standard,’ which means it’s in pretty good shape, but it needed more work than expected and took a lot longer to repair. It was also harder than we thought it would be to get the parts we needed,” said Lisa Smitherman, a DLA Land and Maritime customer support representative at Fort Stewart.

DLA had about 1,200 of the parts the Army needed in stock. For about 130 parts, Smitherman worked with DLA Land and Maritime’s Tim Nourse and his staff in the Land Readiness Room to expedite purchase requests and contracts and even locate items in Army inventory elsewhere.

“We're not just saying it’s not a DLA issue and walking away. We’re providing solutions by using our logistics intelligence and relationships with other commands and units to identify where these parts might be available,” Greene said.

DLA is still working to provide about 50 parts, some of which manufacturers stopped producing within the last two years due to a lack of demand.

“It’s truly been an uphill battle for sustainment logistics,” Smitherman said.

She and other DLA Land and Maritime representatives are still finding ways to supply hard-to-source parts like optical lenses for night vision systems and wire rope assemblies by reaching out to representatives at the Army Materiel Command, Red River Army Depot and the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command.

DLA support for the 1st SFAB is unprecedented, Greene said.

“It’s different in the fact that this is a brand new unit. The other thing is we’ve had to do this on an abbreviated timeline. When we set up a new brigade combat team, for example, we usually have a year or two years for the planning process alone,” he said.

Army officials started developing the concept for its security force assistance brigades during the first quarter of fiscal 2017 and completed the mission-essential equipment list for the first unit in the second quarter. The Army is still determining the makeup of subsequent SFABs, but Greene and Smitherman said they are ready to provide support.

“These kinds of efforts really demonstrate what DLA is capable of, and it’s amazing what we can do when customers involve us even earlier in the planning process,” he said. “It makes it easier for them and it’s better for taxpayers because we’re not buying things at exorbitant rates. The relationships that DLA builds with our trusted partners in industry really bear fruit when these kinds of things occur.”