Gear issued to soldiers deployed to Europe last year didn’t always meet standards, IG finds
Stars and Stripes March 6, 2023
When thousands of U.S.-based soldiers rapidly deployed to Europe last year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, some of the combat gear they pulled from storage depots was substandard, according to a new Defense Department report.
The Pentagon’s inspector general examined how Army logistics and infantry units managed the fielding of thousands of pieces of equipment taken from pre-positioned stockpile locations in Europe.
The IG concluded that shortfalls within the Kaiserslautern, Germany-headquartered 405th Army Field Support Brigade resulted in some gear being poorly maintained.
“The issued equipment had operational readiness rates below 90%,” the IG stated, noting that Army regulations set the minimum standard at 90%.
The Feb. 27 report, which was heavily redacted, did not specify how much equipment was unusable.
In March 2022, for the first time, the service issued gear from its Europe-based Army Prepositioned Stock-2 warehouses to an entire armored brigade combat team arriving in Germany from the United States.
The U.S. deployed an additional 7,000 soldiers, including those from 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022.
The IG credited the 405th Army Field Support Brigade for quickly getting combat equipment into the hands of those incoming soldiers. But going forward, the unit should update various maintenance procedures to ensure that the equipment is mission ready, the IG said.
The Army concurred with the report's findings in an attached statement.
Brigade officials told the IG that equipment ranging from Paladin howitzers to Abrams tanks and other vehicles did not have proper combat configurations. As a result, that “limited the speed of the issuance of numerous vehicles,” the IG said.
For example, more than 60% of M88 recovery vehicles did not have all their required secondary equipment, according to the report.
In Europe, the Army relies on numerous pre-positioned weapons sites for units rotating in and out of the Continent. The purpose is to have a full range of combat equipment at the ready for incoming ground forces, whose deployments would be slowed if gear needed to be hauled across the Atlantic Ocean.
The sites also have played a role in U.S. weapons supplies to Ukraine, which has received everything from mobile rocket systems known as HIMARS to infantry combat vehicles from the Army’s depots in Europe.