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NEWS | March 29, 2022

Team Zutendaal preps 4,700 APS-2 equipment pieces in support of U.S. Soldiers deployed to Europe

By Cameron Porter 405th Army Field Support Brigade

For more than two months the team at Army Prepositioned Stocks-2 worksite Zutendaal has been directly supporting U.S. Soldiers deployed to Europe.

In mid-January, the APS-2 site – which is assigned to Army Field Support Battalion-Benelux, 405th Army Field Support Brigade – was tasked with issuing APS-2 to elements of the XVIII Airborne Corps deploying to Europe. Over 200 vehicles and equipment pieces were shipped from Zutendaal to Mielec, Poland, where AFSBn-Benelux personnel set up a forward Equipment Configuration and Handoff Area and issued the gear.

And then around the middle of February, Team Zutendaal received another mission order, but this time it was a lot bigger. Nearly 4,500 APS-2 vehicles and equipment pieces – over 15 Army units worth of gear – needed to be prepped and ready for shipment.

“We’re hovering at about a 93 percent ready for issue rate, right now,” said Tiffany Mikus, the APS-2 Zutendaal site director.

Mikus’ team is made up of both U.S. personnel and host nation Belgium employees, a total workforce of less than 200 personnel. There’s a maintenance section, supply section, quality assurance section, and a headquarters and administration section – the majority of which are Belgium nationals.

“What the entire team has done in a matter of a few weeks has been nothing short of phenomenal,” Mikus said.

Robert Rotz is the chief of quality assurance and quality control at APS-2 Zutendaal. He said there’s three phases to the ready for issue, or RFI, process when preparing APS-2 equipment sets, and his section is “the last line of defense.”

“We go in there and make sure the inventories were done correctly,” Rotz said. “We also check the maintenance services to make sure they were done right, and we review any deadline faults on the equipment to make sure the repairs were done in accordance with performance standards.” 

Once all that is done, Rotz said he reports to the site director that they are 100 percent RFI. That means the equipment sets meet the appropriate maintenance standards, to include all the down component inventories done by supply.

“Basically, we put our seal of approval on the APS-2 equipment when it’s 100 percent ready,” said Rotz. 

In order to complete the mission and get to 100 percent RFI, the team at APS-2 Zutendaal has been putting in the work. But for the Belgium workforce, when it comes to overtime, host nation labor laws dictate that it be by volunteer only.

William Bravo is the director of maintenance at APS-2 Zutendaal. When they received the mission, he said he could feel a sense of purpose amongst the entire team.

“They instantly volunteered to do the overtime. Everybody pitched in to meet the deadlines with no cultural or country boundaries,” Bravo said. “We were all one team working toward the same goal.”

“They’re very in tune to the mission, very excited about the work they’re doing, and they’re proud to be a part of it,” added Mikus. “They’ve been nothing but gung-ho.”

“It’s been amazing to watch,” Mikus said, adding that one of the most impressive qualities of her team is their ability to remain flexible.

Previous to this mission, the big event that happens annually for the APS-2 Zutendaal site and AFSBn-Benelux is the DEFENDER-Europe exercise, said Bravo.

“That was kind of our super bowl, if you will,” Bravo said, “but this is completely different. This is not an exercise. This is real world, and everyone feels it.

“We’re finally coming to the end of what’s been asked of us,” Bravo said. “We’ve reached a crest, and now we’re starting to come down a little bit because what was asked of us is being delivered.”

“It’s exciting to be a part of this because it’s the first time APS-2 site Zutendaal has been activated and operationalized in support of a real world mission,” said Mikus. “We always talk about the potential reasons we’re here and why the readiness of these equipment sets is so important, but to see them actually being utilized and rolling out the gate is very exciting.”

Located at Eygelshoven, Netherlands, and Zutendaal, Belgium, AFSBn-Benelux is charged with providing and coordinating receipt, transfer, storage and maintenance of APS-2 to enable commanders to conduct unified action and a full range of military operations in support of U.S. Army Europe and Africa and joint forces. The 405th AFSB is assigned to U.S. Army Sustainment Command and under the operational control of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, U.S. Army Europe and Africa. The brigade is headquartered in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and provides materiel enterprise support to U.S. Forces throughout Europe and Africa – providing theater sustainment logistics; synchronizing acquisition, logistics and technology; and leveraging U.S. Army Materiel Command’s materiel enterprise to support joint forces. For more information on the 405th AFSB, visit the official website at www.afsbeurope.army.mil and the official Facebook site at www.facebook.com/405thAFSB.