KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – Soldiers that participate in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn, aren’t being treated as fairly. As of recently, they’re being issued ballistic armour that has been used by other soldiers. When the process is conducted properly, the armour plates should surpass a thorough inspection and defective ones should be discarded. The process isn’t as simple as one might think.
The 21st Theater Sustainment Command expended plenty of time and money sending plates to Sierra, CA, for inspection, prior to being shipped back to Europe for active soldiers.Military officials want assurance that plates are being issued and inspected within a precise time frame. Going by the existing policy, plates should only be issued to deploying Soldiers if they have been inspected within the last nine months.
"What we had that needed to be scanned would be shipped back to the States," said Carla Stovall, a logistics management specialist with the 21st TSC's Support Operations. "Anytime there was a deploying unit we would send our requirements back with the amounts that we would need and they would ship over inspected plates."
Currently, the 21st TSC has implemented a system that uses X-rays to scan plates, identifyingany defects the armour may have. This is known as the Armour Inspection System, or AIS. This modern system willenable a traveling team of Non-Destructive Test Equipment, or NDTE, personnel to be flown in to examine and confirm the plates used throughout Europe as effective.
"This is actually the first fixed site with an AIS that we have where we can actually jump the mobile team right into the inspection process," said Bruce Cardell, the NDTE team lead. "The intent is to take a mobile team, drop them into a fixed site, process all of the plates they have, and place the plates back on the same cycle and same inspection window, while at the same time taking the bad plates out of service. Now the only plates that are being sent back to the states are the unserviceable plates, which will go back into circulation once they are repaired."
There could be a huge cost saving advantage when having a fixed AIS in Kaiserslautern.
As of late, the mobile team is on the ground on Rhine Ordnance Barracks, Germany. And they should be there until Oct. 8. Their duties will be inspecting the more than 50,000 plates from across Europe. Their goal is to maximize the stock of plates eligible for deployment.
Having the NDTE inspection team on site is something that’s necessary. "[It] should be a recurring thing," said Stovall. "All of the plates that are considered issuable will all expire at the same time so we would want to have that taken care of before the nine months are up."
"We look at the operation as being a lifeline and gives the Soldiers and commanders the reassurance that they have the best equipment in theater," reportsCardell. "It gives them that reassurance that they have the best type of plate protecting them in the field."
It’s expected that the plates that surpass inspection will be shipped to several issuing facilities throughout Europe. Deploying soldiers everywhere will be protected once this is completed.