ORLANDO, Fla. - The Army divestiture program is a crucial means of increasing readiness while equipping units efficiently. This program balances the quantity and quality of military equipment and vehicles, ultimately keeping costs down, but still sustaining force capabilities.
During the months of August and September, dozens of soldiers from units under the 143rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) worked to move about 50 vehicles marked for divestiture in convoys across the command’s area of operations to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. This was in addition to nearly 40 vehicles already shipped commercially to Army Support Activity Dix.
“This is a great example of how our Army Reserve soldier, given relatively short notice, steps up to the plate to meet a key function associated with U.S. Army strategic objectives,” said Foster Hudson, the 143rd’s ESC supervisory logistics management specialist.
The 143rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) commands and controls more than 10,000 Army Reserve troops throughout the Southeast, including Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, and Mississippi. Formerly a transportation command, the 143rd ESC conducts sustainment and retrograde missions during overseas operations. Here in the States, the 143rd ensures its soldiers remain ready.
“In order to stay relevant, the Army Reserve has to go through the process, turn in vehicles, and get ready to receive new ones down the road,” said Lt. Col. Kevin F. Meisler, the 143rd ESC’s deputy G3 (support operations). “Divestiture assures that the USAR remains a relevant force in the future and that our soldiers are ready to participate in any operation deemed necessary.”
According to the latest Army Equipping Guidance, the Army must reduce the costs associated with maintaining and operating outdated equipment and vehicles. Available funds will be used in procuring and maintaining modern equipment better suited to function and protect our troops on an ever-changing battlefield.
“A lot of these trucks were really out of date,” said Spc. Camille David, a 414th Transportation Company motor transport operator, who drove one of the divested vehicles to Army Support Activity Dix. “I hadn’t even seen these trucks before. Keeping the trucks running [during the mission] was a little challenging, because they were so old.”
David has trained on and driven much newer vehicles, both at her advanced individual training and during her recent deployment to Afghanistan.
Although smaller items like clothing and office supplies are also divested once obsolete, the 143rd ESC’s focus has been upon vehicles due to the logistics and transportation nature of its missions. About eight soldiers from the 143rd ESC’s support operations began planning this mission back in August 2013.
“These items are periodically reviewed, usually annually,” said Foster. “We didn’t do the selecting. USARC [U.S. Army Reserve Command] was the one that managed that aspect.”
There are several determining factors to consider when selecting vehicles for divestiture, including type of vehicle and the number the unit has.
After personnel from the Standard Army Retail Supply System take possession of the vehicles at Army Support Activity Dix, there are numerous places they could end up.
“After they’re turned in, it’s up to the Army where they go,” said Hudson. “They’re sold to various agencies sometimes, like Homeland Security.”
However, according to Hudson, vehicles are typically purchased by non-government agencies.
Some vehicles may be recycled into the inventory to be used as training aids. Divested Army equipment and vehicles can even be sold as scrap metal and later re-purposed to make new items, like cars and toasters.
Subordinate units within the 143rd ESC involved in this mission include the 518th Sustainment Brigade, 321st Sustainment Brigade, 894 Quartermaster Company, 641st Regional Support Group, 257th Transportation Battalion, 414th Transportation Company, and 196th Transportation Company. The divestiture mission is scheduled for completion by the end of September.
The 143rd ESC is part of the 377th Theater Sustainment Command, headquartered in Belle Chasse, La.