21st TSC hosts Korean Arms Verification Agency

by Angelika Lantz
21st TSC Public Affairs

Absolutely no coloring outside the box allowed. When the Supply Activity Europe, which falls under the Theater Logistics Support Center-Europe, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, hosted the Korean Arms Verification Agency inspection team May 17 and 18 in the KMC, every aspect of the visit was regulated.

While it was a historic first to have a South Korean inspection team involved with a Conventional Armed Forces in Europe inspection, the SAE is a well-versed veteran of the annual arms evaluation and inspection process. Additionally, the KAVA visit was not a bona-fide inspection but a training exercise. However, established protocol was followed every step of the way.

“U.S. organizations here in Europe are subject to a number of treaties and agreements. The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe was originally established between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Warsaw Pact countries in the 1990s,” said Donald Bowles, a treaty compliance officer with the treaty compliance branch at U.S. Army in Europe.

Since 2007, the treaty has been expanded to cover 30 signatory states. It was established to reduce and balance inventory levels for five categories of offensive conventional armaments. 

“Treaty-limited equipment categories include battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, artillery, combat aircraft and attack helicopters,” said Robert Bringman, an arms control policy specialist also with USAREUR’s treaty compliance branch.

With transparency and parity in mind, the signatory states exchange information to report the number and locations of the subject equipment on an annual basis and CFE inspections verify the accuracy of the reported data.

“Having training inspections keeps everyone on their toes and maintains the skills of the site personnel, which actually is no problem here at SAE anyway,” Mr. Bowles said.

Mr. Bringman and Mr. Bowles agree that SAE was the best place for the KAVA training exercise.

“We love coming to K-town. There is so much training involved in getting everyone up to speed on the CFE regulations and procedures, but here the program seems to run by itself. Unlike other organizations, SAE has very little turnover and everyone has been through the inspection process. It makes our job so much easier,” Mr. Bringman said.

Exercise or the real deal, the inspection process is extremely regulated. Procedures such as limiting the time allowed for briefings or lunch, setting a rigid briefing format, detailing how the administrative area for the visiting team is equipped, establishing which site an inspector enters a vehicle first and where a person will be seated during transportation are all observed.

 “The object is for all teams to have the same set of rules. No matter where they come from or whom they inspect, they need to be on equal footing,” said John Galimore, the director of SAE. “This is a one-day deal and the objective is to allow the maximum time for the actual on-site inspections, not take it up with briefings or meals.”

“This type of inspection builds confidence that what we report is true. That we have no secrets and that we do not hide anything,” Mr. Bowles said.

Mr. Galimore said that during the exercise, the two-meter rule was observed as during an actual inspection.

“All two-meter-wide doors and containers measuring two meters high, two meters wide and two meters deep are considered key access points, since they could hide the smallest piece of equipment,” Mr. Galimore said.

This was the first training exercise in Germany for the KAVA team, which consisted of a director and nine inspectors, and under the circumstances they performed extremely well.

“They did an amazing job and yet were able to return with a number of lesson learned,” Mr. Galimore said.