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Operation Keystone 9 expedites parts delivery for Afghan National Army

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A handful of service members assigned to the Deputy Commander of Support Operations under NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan have planned and are executing an operation known as Keystone 9.

This operation, which started in July of 2012 and is expected to run until late October 2012, rapidly processes repair parts and distributes these parts to Afghan National Army units.

“Operation Keystone 9 is a mission designed to expedite the delivery of critical repair parts to the theater in support of the ANA combat operations,” said Lt. Cmdr. Trey Scudder, the senior mentor for the Second Forward Support Depot (under Regional Logistics Support Command-Kandahar) supporting the ANA and also the deputy for Logistics Training Advisory Team South.

The concept is multifold, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Dempster D. Upshaw, a supply technician who manages repair parts within DCOM-SPO. Instead of all parts arriving from New Cumberland and from Thailand going through Kabul some are now flown into Kandahar where they are prioritized, sorted and pushed out. “It is saving time by eliminating the Depot 0 warehouse [the national-level Class IX repair parts depot]…and essentially doing a ‘direct delivery’ of parts and supplies to the front doorsteps of the customers…These parts hit home to the action level directly,” Upshaw said.

DCOM SPO receives notification of inbound parts approximately 48 hours before they arrive to Kandahar. It allows Upshaw an advanced look at what is on the particular aircraft and match up against on hand supplies and shortages.

Once the parts arrive at Kandahar Airfield, they are signed for by a coalition representative. All parts are convoyed to the Coalition Forces Sorting Facility that they affectionately refer to as the “Yard.” Here, service members sort the parts.

“The hard work displayed by a very small team comprised of five Marines, one sailor, three airmen and seven Army service members is a true testament to the merits of joint service missions. The level of enthusiasm displayed by the troops involved in this mission literally breathed life back into the ANA repair parts system,” said Scudder.

Once parts are sorted, Scudder’s team arranges for transportation by either ANA transportation assets to nearby locations or coalition assets to remote locations. By simply bypassing Kabul, Scudder thinks that several weeks are shaved off the traditional processing time.

Operation Keystone 9 is a temporary solution, allowing ANA units to receive repair parts in the midst of the fighting season and also allowing Depot 0 to clear up their backlog and conduct personnel training, before all parts are routed through them again, starting late September 2012.

NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan is a coalition of 38 troop-contributing nations charged with assisting the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in generating a capable and sustainable Afghan National Security Force ready to take lead of their country's security by 2014.

Article by Capt. Monika Comeaux, 13th Sustainment Command