As Soldiers of the 40th Expeditionary Signal Battalion deployed May 1 and 4, they not only received emotional support from loved ones and friends, but also earlier logistical support from the divisions of the Logistics Readiness Center.
The LRC assisted the Soldiers in two different capacities making sure they were well-equipped for their missions. For those deploying to Afghanistan, the Central Issue Facility, or CIF, assisted in ordering the appropriate uniforms and other required gear.
According to Cliff Songer, Supply and Services Division chief, Logistics Readiness Center, in February, the CIF began ordering uniforms for all deploying 40th ESB Soldiers.
“We’re just trying to make sure they have all the items needed,” Songer said. “In logistics, you have to know people’s needs before they do.”
Those who deployed to Afghanistan also needed to order and learn how to use an improved outer tactical vest, or IOTV. According to Candy Hale, supply technician lead and CIF manager, the vests had to fit each Soldier in a specific way. This is due to the IOTV having six major components that each Soldier had to learn to put together piece by piece.
Once the uniforms and vests arrived, members of the 40th ESB attended a brief class held by CIF personnel where the Soldiers had to demonstrate they could pull apart, put together and wear the IOTV properly. CIF officials asked each Soldier to inventory the rest of his or her uniform.
“Familiarization and proper use of the equipment is key [to the Soldiers’ missions while deployed],” explained Sgt. 1st Class Sonny Rollins, 40th ESB first sergeant.
The logistical support didn’t stop there. For the group of Soldiers deploying to Asia, a Rapid Fielding Initiative, or RFI, was held March 17 at Fort Huachuca’s KICC Site. The RFI was a combined team effort of the LRC; Directorate of Planning, Training, Mobilization and Security; and the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, or TACOM.
The week before, Soldiers and Civilians involved in the RFI setup shop and unloaded a truck hauling 50 pallets of boxes which contained the uniforms and began inventory of each item shipped to the KICC Site. After the completed inventory, the uniforms and other gear were distributed to its appropriate station for each Soldier to collect during the RFI.
The RFI consisted of a total of eight stations — two for processing and six for issuing 21 types of property. Once the official RFI began, all Soldiers were given checklists naming each property item a Soldier would receive.
As an item was distributed, a bar code on each Soldier’s checklist was scanned with a handheld scanner set up at each station. All bar codes were digitally uploaded to the Soldier’s common access card, or CAC. At the last checkpoint, Soldiers used their CAC card to electronically sign for all items.
Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Watson, TACOM fielding lead, explained that receipt of the product is captured on each Soldier’s records during the scanning. When the Soldiers visited all stations and came to their final check-out, all items would show up on a property list when their CACs were scanned. This worked like a digital checklist for the distribution of property and ensured accurate distribution and accountability.
“The Soldiers digitally sign for [the equipment] and then they’re good to go; it’s officially their equipment at that point,” Watson added.
For Sgt. Brandon Williams and 1st Lt. Jimmy Brousseau, both from Company C, 40th ESB, the RFI was a smooth process for the Soldiers. Williams noted this would not have been possible without the meticulous pre-planning.
“They had a whole week to plan and get everything going and it shows in how easy it’s happening right now,” Williams said. “That’s logistics. It’s pre-planning, getting everything ready so when it happens, it’s a smooth process.”