U.S. Army Strategic Capabilities Afloat
by U.S. Army Capt. Pedro Lugo
February 11, 2022
With operations and exercises in support of Pacific Pathways on the horizon, the Army Field Support Battalion – Charleston, is busy supporting the rapid power projection capability provided through Army Prepositioned Stocks (APS).
The unit is located at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina and ensures the equipment sets and munitions are fully mission capable and prepared for rapid employment in support of Combatant Commander requirements. The scope of the operation is massive, and through the herculean efforts of dedicated Soldiers, Department of the Army Civilians and contracted workforce, the team continuously maintains this combat equipment afloat in a ready posture to project combat power worldwide.
The Army Field Support Battalion – Charleston, or AFSBn – CHS, is responsible for the readiness and employment of this critical power projection capability. The unit maintains the Army Prepositioned Stock-3 (APS-3) Program, which is the only afloat pre-positioned stock in the Army. The battalion is a subordinate unit of the 404th Army Field Support Brigade, located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, the Army Sustainment Command, located at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois and the Army Materiel Command, located at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.
(Left) A Large, Medium-Speed Roll-on/Roll-off (LMSR) vessel docks at Wharf Alpha, Charleston, South Carolina, and prepares to load recently repaired, maintained and modernized equipment for future operations. (Right) A Medium Tactical Vehicle (MTV), M1085 with trailer is loaded onto a Large, Medium - Speed Roll-on/Roll-off vessel at Wharf Alpha, Charleston, South Carolina, in preparation for future operations. The Army Field Support Battalion – Charleston, is responsible for the readiness and employment of critical power projection capability. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from photos by U.S. Army Capt. Pedro Lugo - February 3, 2022)
Its mission is to provide the warfighter with the ability to quickly generate combat power at any location designated by the National Command Authority. AFSBn – CHS establishes, maintains, and conducts the handoff and reconstitution of the Army Prepositioned Stocks 3 (Afloat).
Additionally, the battalion maintains complete Infantry Brigade Combat Teams, Theater Opening/Port Opening, and Sustainment Support Brigades equipment sets at Technical Manual (TM) 10/20 standards, and properly configures for quick and efficient handoff to a gaining tactical unit.
“I am truly proud of the entire workforce in AFSBn – CHS. Their commitment to the maintenance and readiness of APS-3 is second-to-none,” said Col. John C. Rotante, 404th Army Field Support Brigade Commander.
“These dedicated professionals know what is on the line and that, when called, this equipment must be at the highest state of readiness for our warfighters. We are excited for the opportunity to deploy and issue this capability to tactical units in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility in support of bi-lateral training with the Philippine Army.”
The primary purpose of Army Prepositioned Stock (APS) is to enhance the U.S. Army logistical support globally to support a United States based force, and sustain Soldiers as resources are shifted throughout the operational theater. The Army has prepositioned military stocks in various locations throughout the world with the necessary equipment Soldiers would need in the event of contingency operations, including vehicles, weapons and ammunition. There are several sets of APS geographically positioned in support of the regional Combatant Commanders, however, APS-3 is the only equipment set afloat with the flexibility and agility to be employed anywhere in the world.
Historically, ten percent of material sent to a theater arrives by airlift, while the remaining 90 percent arrives by sea. AFSBn – CHS plays a critical role in repairing, maintaining and modernizing equipment that will be moving to contingencies in support of various operations.
“We can quickly provide equipment to any theater, including the Indo-Pacific, during times of competition, crisis or conflict,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Manganaro, AFSBn – CHS Battalion Commander.
“AFSBn – CHS is the unit charged with the responsibility to maintain and deliver the APS-3 capability. We are based out of a strategic location capable of air, rail and sea power projection,” said Manganaro.
APS allows a rapid buildup of forces to demonstrate U.S. resolve, reduce the risk of open conflict and counter hostile actions before the arrival of sealift and expansion forces. It also enhances force projection capability by drastically reducing the time needed to deploy a task force or brigade-sized force by providing combat ready equipment already in theater.
“We are also the only Army unit who can reset an entire brigade’s equipment set within 120 days,” said Manganaro. “During that time, we download a vessel completely, do a full reset, and put everything back onto the next vessel.”
The AFSBn – CHS Senior Enlisted Advisor Sgt. 1st Class Richard Emmerling spoke about how strategic APS capabilities are approved for release by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Chief of Staff of the Army, or Department of the Army assistant chief of staff, operations (G-3) and assistant chief of staff, plans (G-5).
“We are a world-wide asset,” said Emmerling. “Our job is to ensure [assets] get where they are needed in advance”.
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