Coming Home

Christine June, Story and photos
415th Base Support Battalion

***image1******image2***The 1st Armored Division Soldiers are back home after 15 months in Iraq, but some of their equipment had to make a pit stop or “reconstitution” before it is reunited with the unit.
Reconstitution is restoring equipment damaged during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“About 22 percent of the equipment returning from deployment in Iraq is directed to the General Support Center Europe for repairs exceeding the unit’s capability and capacity before it is returned,” said Rich D. Woodworth, GSCE Logistics Operations chief. “Under the reconstitution umbrella, we repair their equipment that has significant battle damage or simply rode hard in Iraq with the objective of enhancing operational readiness and increasing the equipment availability for the Soldier.”
Since January, the GSCE Supply Activity Kaiserslautern has received 1,500 parts, equipment, vehicles, trucks and tanks. More than 600 of those items have been repaired by the center’s maintenance facilities in Kaiserslautern, Pirmasens, Mannheim, Vilseck and six contract sites throughout Germany.
Finding equipment that needs reconstitution begins when the troops are in Kuwait, ready to head back home. A team of GSCE technicians travel to Kuwait to inspect and identify the equipment that will make the pit stop to SAK.
As the only government supply center left in U.S. Army Europe, SAK keeps track of more than 2,500 vehicles and 50,000 parts worth about $7 million. It’s their job to receive, process, record, store and transport equipment to the maintenance or contract sites. Once repaired, SAK again receives processes, records and stores equipment before reissuing to the unit.
For more than a year, supply technicians have worked overtime and weekends to ensure that Soldiers get their equipment back, ready to use.
“To me, it’s supporting the troops down in Iraq,” said Guillermo Rivera, SAK chief. “When the Soldiers get back, it’s our job to make sure that their equipment gets fixed up so when the unit has any future assignments their equipment is available and ready to perform the mission.”
It is projected that SAK will receive 900 more items with the redeployment of the 1st AD, said Mr. Woodworth. The items started rolling in Aug. 16. About 300 of those items will go to Maintenance Activity Kaiserslautern from now until October.
Local national mechanics will work in two shifts, 10 hours a day, five days a week and when needed, weekends. They work in two-man teams and are responsible for fixing everything on that vehicle, including the hydraulics, electrical and mechanical systems.
“We can only appreciate what they do,” said Markus S. Cappel, MAK director. “They are not really obligated to work shift work, overtime or weekends, but they are doing it.”
Ralf Flrch, a MAK electrical mechanic, says that most commercial garages wouldn’t even attempt to fix these vehicles, which usually have parts missing, broken or damaged.
“We must fix it,” said Herr Flrch, who has worked for MAK for three years. “We want to do our work. It’s our work, and we want to give the Soldiers our best work.”