Saturday, February 19, 2011

First Annual Sustainment and Equipping Conference: Operation Enduring Freedom

Photo by DVIDS Staff Sgt. Jordan Jones
A five day workshop concluded on Friday, February 18th, which focused on the theme of improving the current supply chain and military equipment  provided to U.S. combat forces in Afghanistan.

The overriding theme reported from the conference, that took place at Bagram Airfeld in Kabul, was for the U.S Central Command, in combination with the Department of Army Headquarters, and Army Material Command, to better adapt to changing variables as they become apparent and are reported back from combat units in Afghanistan.

The new system will provide military gear and a supply chain that is constantly improved for all members of the United States Armed Forces, rather than sticking to the status quo. 

Input from combat troops played a major role, as they will ultimately be the end user who will need to rely on what is provided to meet their objectives, and maintain their safety. A Sgt. Maj from Program Executive Officer Soldier was present at the meetings and was happy to be able to meet specific combat units that were operating in Afghanistan. Their comments and the direct communication of what they needed to do their job is of the utmost importance in the development of military equipment that is not only functional, but also fits in with  the given area of operation. 

The I.S.A.F public affairs reported on a couple key products that were discussed during the course of the workshops, including improved ballistic glasses. During a particular meeting it was brought up that the current lightweight glasses needed to be improved to the point of including infra-red, thermal, digital, and night vision,without adding too much un-needed heft. This would improve the ability to see the enemy from afar, without having to utilize multiple types of tactical equipment including scopes, binoculars, and goggles. 

The newer Army Combat Uniform in Universal Digital Camouflage was pointed out as shown in the included image. No mention was given to new styles of camouflage including MultiCam or future innovation. However, the new ACU was displayed to discuss the built-in elbow and knee pads, insect repellent, and flame resistant properties. They also touched on the needs for combat troops to utilize actual equipment used in Afghanistan, during training in the United States. This is a key hands on approach to become familiarized with the vehicles and tactical gear that will be used during actual missions. One item that was particularly focused on were the vehicles driven during IED detection patrols, which have multiple tools for finding different types of concealed explosive devices.

A recording of Gen. Petraeus, the Commander of ISAF and US forces, started the conference off right by pointing out that it is imperative that the military needs to make things right for the troops. This conference and future meetings can certainly make the right step forward in developing, and proving the best equipment possible, so that the troops can get their job done safely. 

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