Establishing a new capability on an expeditionary installation such as Prince Sultan Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, comes with its fair share of challenges. The austere nature of the installation makes communicating and ordering necessary items and equipment to accomplish the mission somewhat unpredictable.
However, the 378th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron’s Mission Impaired Capability Awaiting Parts (MICAP) team has worked hard to establish and build PSAB’s supply chain, bringing mission essential parts directly to the maintenance units assigned to the 378th Air Expeditionary Wing.
“We wanted to codify a flexible supply chain utilizing both commercial and military transport to keep our planes in the air,” said Capt. Adam Andrews, 378th ELRS Director of Operations. “If we don’t procure the necessary parts, our jets can’t fly, and we are compromising the wing’s ability to accomplish the mission. That is an unacceptable outcome.”
Recently, the team’s efforts paid off as most the most efficient MICAP team in AFCENT. Meaning, that of all Air Expeditionary Wing’s in the CENTCOM’s area of responsibility, PSAB’s team was recognized to have the most efficient turn around rate when it comes to ordering and delivering parts to their operations, in spite of a high daily-demand for parts.
“Our MICAP team is a group of tireless professionals,” said Andrews. “They are connected to every sortie generation activity. They innovate, build relationships with the host nation and several civilian & military supply nodes worldwide. They along with the rest of our logistics professionals are operating behind the scenes and hugely responsible for the sorties launched every day out of PSAB.”
MICAPs are critical parts that prevent a weapon system from achieving fully mission capable status. In order to prevent this from happening, the Squadron provides the functions which ensure the acquisition of these parts as expeditiously and efficiently as possible.
Once an item is requested and designated as MICAP, it takes priority over typical daily supply acquisitions. The item is immediately researched and ordered from a source that will get the item here in the quickest possible time. It is also constantly tracked from its point of origin and once on station, becomes a priority for unloading, processing and disseminating to the requesting unit.
Staff Sgt. Moana Waqa, 378 ELRS MICAP team member, explained that due diligence and attention to detail is a minimum requirement for working on the MICAP processing team.
“The team recognizes the importance of ensuring that each ordered part is exactly what we need and able to be delivered quickly, Waqa added. “Having an exceptional understanding of the processes and requirements for each supply hub also helps. This basic knowledge will prevent mistakes and delays that can critically impair the unit’s ability to accomplish the air tasking orders.”
“At first, we had to overcome an extremely steep learning curve,” Andrews added. “In spite of the location challenges, we didn’t give up on execution. We consolidated gains, exploited opportunities in order to make this a successful program. Today, we sit as one of the healthiest supply chains in this region in large thanks to our ELRS Airmen and commercial partners.”
Due to their constant improvement, the start to finish time for some of PSABs MICAP items has dipped to as low as five days, which at the beginning was unheard of; and they have acquired hundreds of items to enable the mission on PSAB. According to Andrews, this exceptional rate of completion has continued despite the COVID-19 pandemic which has drastically affected other logistical acquisitions worldwide.
“With the pandemic, we’ve seen our supporting agencies’ manning adjust hours of operations, which caused some challenges, Andrews added. “However, the relationships at crucial nodes we built over time and our know-how has made up for these operational coverage gaps. In country, we count on host nation partnerships and detailed communications to ensure this vital piece of the mission remains uninterrupted.”
While PSAB’s capability and location makes it a crucial location for conducting operations in the region, it is the 378th ELRS team that is responsible for establishing the key supply program needed to fix and maintain the aircraft assigned to the wing.
“There is a common saying in the logistics world: ‘You can’t fly, without supply,’” said Andrews. “Thankfully at PSAB we haven’t had to see that reign true, we are the lifeline to the hard working maintainers and the pilots so they can execute strategic mission sets. It brings us great pride to represent the 378 AEW and the 378 ELRS as one of the premier logistics operations, even as we are the brand new Wing.” Supply, Fuel, Transportation and Vehicle Maintenance—we are “Ready to Strike”.