The small Army depot is located off a scenic tree-lined Italian highway, seemingly innocuous and quiet. But just behind the front gate stands a battalion with tremendous capability and worldwide reach. The 3rd Battalion, 405th Army Field Support Brigade (AFSB) at Leghorn Army Depot launches international support to Soldiers and other organizations from this small but capable installation.
One of the unit’s current high-profile missions includes reset and handling of left-behind equipment (LBE) for deploying and redeploying units throughout the European theater of operations. The battalion is currently conducting reset and LBE operations on more than 1,100 pieces of military equipment for the 172nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team (HBCT), the 170th HBCT, and the 173rd Airborne Combat Team.[image align=”left” caption=”The battalion maintained equipment for the 173rd HBCT through its LBE program while the unit was deployed. (U.S. Army photo by Chiara Mattirolo.)” linkto=”/web/wp-content/uploads/lbe.jpg” linktype=”image”]”/web/wp-content/uploads/lbe.jpg” height=”167″ width=”246″[/image]
“Our modern, well-equipped maintenance facilities ensure that we have everything available to us to complete all facets of reset and maintenance operations for all ground combat military vehicles,” said LTC Richard Pierce, Commander of the 3rd Battalion. “We can truly execute a ‘start to finish’ mission. These state-of-the-art facilities, combined with a talented and dedicated workforce, ensure that Soldiers receive equipment in far better condition than when they sent it to us.”
In addition to expansive maintenance and repair facilities, the battalion oversees an extensive warehousing operation. The battalion operates 15 warehouses, encompassing more than 582,000 square feet of humidity-controlled storage capability, larger than an American football field. Controlled humidity provides an optimal storage environment and cuts in half the maintenance requirements for stored equipment, thereby conserving manpower and repair parts.
In the area of ammunition operations, the battalion maintains 50 earth-covered and 17 above-ground ammunition storage magazines within the Pisa Ammunition Storage Area (ASA), next to the depot. The underused ASA can store several thousand short tons of ammunition for strategic or operational missions, with direct access to the Mediterranean Sea.
The battalion’s substantial storage capability, combined with logistics experience, led to interagency agreements with nonmilitary organizations including the U.S. State Department and the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA). The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and DSCA rely on the battalion for the storage, maintenance, and distribution of humanitarian aid, disaster relief, and crisis supplies and equipment. Whenever disaster or crisis strikes, USAID may call upon the battalion to help transport supplies to a disaster zone or to support a combatant commander.
The 3rd Battalion’s support to this humanitarian mission sets it apart from other Army organizations.[quote align=”right”]I truly believe that the unique combination of logistics and transportation capabilities, state-of-the-art facilities, and an experienced and talented workforce give the battalion tremendous strategic importance.[/quote]
“In the past, we largely utilized military installations for our warehousing operations,” said Robert Demeranville, Senior Logistician for USAID. “However, that is no longer the case. All of our warehousing operations have been moved to commercial locations, with the exception of the materials at the battalion in Italy. They are the only military unit that handles this sort of work for us now.”
Pierce considers the USAID mission a source of pride for the battalion, noting that it has supported USAID missions in more than 45 countries over the past 10 years, including recent aid missions in Haiti and Pakistan.
“We consider ourselves a partner to USAID in their humanitarian relief efforts,” Pierce said. “We take great pride in being able to deliver the materials they need in a timely and efficient manner, doing our part to alleviate people’s suffering as quickly as possible.”
The battalion’s mission is further enhanced by its location.
“Our location in Italy gives us a unique logistics capability,” said Alberto Chidini, Host Nation Executive Advisor to the Commander and Battalion Project Manager for the USAID mission. “Because we have access to so many modes of transportation, we can execute loading and transportation missions quickly and efficiently, ensuring that the aid reaches the disaster area as quickly as possible.”
“I truly believe that the unique combination of logistics and transportation capabilities, state-of-the-art facilities, and an experienced and talented workforce give the battalion tremendous strategic importance,” said COL Ronald Green, Commander of the 405th AFSB, which is headquartered in Kaiserslautern, Germany. “I remain impressed by both the quality of their service to the Soldier and the breadth and scope of their mission.”
- JENNIFER L. KING is a public affairs officer with the AFSB, Kaiserslautern, Germany. She holds a B.A. in journalism and public relations from the University of Louisiana at Monroe.