There are many reasons why you may need to have equipment issued to you during your time in the Air Force. You might need a gas mask for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, High Yield Explosive training or body armor and a helmet so you can be qualified on a weapon for an upcoming deployment. If you have need of this or other individual equipment, you should visit the 355th Logistics Readiness Squadron Individual Protective Equipment Section, located in Building 4859.
The IPE office is responsible for storing, issuing, and maintaining the equipment required to support deployment and contingency operations. This includes A, B and C bags, individual body armor as well as MCU-2A/P and M-50 gas masks. We are responsible for the 355th Fighter Wing weapons account, which includes M-9s, M-16s and M-4s, as well as the equipment required to support those weapons.
When you are issued any of this equipment, you assume responsibility for it. At the time of issue, you are responsible for completing a joint validation with IPE personnel in order to ensure that you are getting all the assets you are signing for. This validation not only requires you to validate the stock number and the quantities of the assets you are being issued, but it also requires you to verify the lot number, contract number, and expiration date on any shelf-life assets that ensures the equipment is serviceable for the duration you will need it.
There is also a statement at the top of the AF IMT 1297, Temporary Issue Receipt, also known as a hand receipt, that states “I acknowledge receipt of and responsibility IAW AFI 23-111 for the items described below and will return them by the return date indicated.” According to AFI 23-111, paragraph 3.1.3, once you sign for the equipment, become the temporary property custodian for that item. A property custodian is an appointed or authorized individual issued government property on the basis of a property or custodial receipt document.
As someone with custodial responsibility for this equipment, you may be held liable for the loss, destruction, or damage to property caused by willful misconduct, deliberate unauthorized use or negligence in the use, care, custody or safeguard of the property from causes other than normal wear and tear.
When you sign for the equipment, you are responsible for it until you return it to the IPE office. You should keep it safe and secure and return it as soon as you no longer need it for your training, exercise or deployment. Upon its return, they will conduct a joint inventory with you to ensure that everything you signed for is being returned and that it has not been damaged or destroyed. They will also process a return on the equipment in order to ensure it is removed from their inventory tracking system and will give the member back their signed hand receipt after they have annotated the return date and the Airman that processed the return to indicate the equipment was actually returned. It is important that the member keeps this copy of the hand receipt as it is proof that they returned the equipment.
If the member loses the equipment, there are several options available. The member may voluntarily elect to pay for the missing equipment by submitting a cash collection voucher, DD Form 1131, to Finance along with cash, check, or money order for the value of the equipment or they can have the charges for the missing equipment taken out of their pay by submitting a DD Form 362 to Finance. If the member elects either of these options, the IPE office will fill out the paperwork for the member to take to Finance. The member’s other option for missing equipment is to have their unit commander initiate a Report of Survey request.
There are two reasons that taking care of this equipment and returning it on time are important. The first reason can impact you directly. If you lose any of this assigned equipment and you either voluntarily elect to pay for it or an ROS is completed and you are found financially liable, the bill can get pretty expensive. A complete M-50 gas mask kit costs over $300. A complete set of Body Armor, outer tactical vest and two plates, can cost well over $1,600 depending on the type of vest. The second reason it is important to take care of this equipment is because we have limited assets to support our contingency requirements.
Every asset lost or damaged is one less piece of equipment we have available to support future requirements. We are charged with being good stewards of items purchased with taxpayer dollars. By taking care of your equipment and returning it on time, you will help us and our Wing Commander meet these obligations.
Since the accountability of your individually issued gear is so important, here are a few ways you can protect yourself from losing equipment.
First and foremost, do not leave it in your personal vehicle for storage. Over the past couple of years, there has been a rash of vehicle break-ins where the member’s issued equipment was stolen to member’s being personally culpable for heat damaged equipment as result of them storing it inside their personal vehicle.
Secondly, don’t loan the equipment out to someone else. Not only is it a bad idea from a financial perspective, but we are also required to ensure that anyone needing a gas mask has a valid gas mask fit test for the type and size mask they are being issued. This means that your mask may not properly fit your fellow Airman.
Thirdly, don’t leave your equipment unsecured at your work center. There have been instances of equipment that was lost or stolen out of a bag when it was left unsecured.
Finally, don’t keep the equipment when you have completed your training, deployment, or exercise. There is a return date on the upper right hand side of the hand receipt; IPE establishes that based on what you need the equipment for and how long you will need it. If you don’t return it on time we will contact you as the member first. After the equipment is more than 30 days overdue for return, IPE is required by regulation to contact your commander for assistance in recovering it.
Following these simple steps and taking some basic precautions can not only help you to secure your individually-issued equipment but it will also ensure that we are prepared to deploy the Airmen and their necessary protective equipment when the time comes.