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Lack of Proper Assets results in Misuse of Government Property in South West Asia
WOILE 15-016, CW4 Michael Podesta

I served in multiple contingency operations with in South West Asia (SWA) Theater from Feb 2006 to Jan 2010 separated in to three deployments supporting different contingency operations. These deployments included Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Jan 2005 to Mar 2006 with the 3BCT, 3ID as the Brigade Mobility Officer, OIF Mar 2007 to July 2008 with the 3BCT, 3ID as the Brigade Mobility Officer, and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Sep 2011 to Jan 2012 with the 45th Sustainment Brigade (SB) as the SB Mobility Officer. During all of these deployments while serving as a Mobility Officer regardless when I was serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Kuwait between the time periods I have noticed one thing has been remained constant despite the location or timing. Regardless if its Military, Civilian, or Host nations support everyone on the military installation misutilized the Air Force 463L Pallet. Government property which has an only authorized use and purpose as an intermodal asset to transport cargo by air.
Observation 1: Air Force 463L Pallets used as tent flooring.
Discussion: Many units did not have proper materials to use as proper tent flooring in order to keep tent floors dry. While deployed to hot and dry environments when it rains the ground quickly became muddy and flooded with water, without proper flooring tents can quickly became wet and uncomfortable. The 463L pallets are thick and heavy and work perfect to elevate the floor just enough to keep most of the water and mud out of the tents. As military units had air cargo delivered instead of returning the 463L pallets back to the Air Force for proper use back in to the Air Force cargo system many military units would keep the 463L’s for many purposes such as tent flooring. With a large number of units holding on to these 463L’s it resulted in the Air Force having a shortage of shipping pallets.
Recommendation: Produce cheaper alternatives to the 463L so units have other alternatives as better flooring to keep tents dry rather than unit having a need to acquire and misuse the costly 463L pallets. It is overall the units’ responsibility to ensure the Soldiers have the proper equipment but when the unit fails or the Soldiers will find something that works better they and they will acquire anything they are able to get their hands on to make living conditions better while deployed to a combat zone. As this is a common issue it can be handled at a theater level to ensure a cheaper and effective alternative tent flooring is easily available for all solider which must include those located in very remote locations.
Observation 2: Air Force 463L net systems used by cargo truck companies.
Discussion: Nets are a component of the 463L pallet systems although they do not come up missing as much as the pallets themselves but the nets also are being misused for a variety of different things. Most common misuse is by the trucking companies that transport equipment. 463L nets will be used to secure cargo to the back of flatbed in lieu of or in addition to cargo straps that are standard equipment for the trucking companies. Trucking companies also like the 463L nets ability to restrain cargo as it does a great job to quickly cover and secure lose cargo therefore is a prime item to be held by truckers. The nets also transform in to a great hammocks when there is no work to be done.
Recommendation: Military trucking companies need to invest in to a cargo netting system which can quickly be throw over cargo and to secure the entire load. There are commercial versions of similar cargo netting for passenger pickup trucks as well as commercial trucks but for the military cargo truck they are limited to use cargo straps and chains to secure loads. Straps and chains work great for containerized loads or vehicles but not efficient for every type of load such as loose loaded items on pallets. Since Military trucks do not carry this type of cargo netting truck companies will normally ask to borrow the 463L nets in order to keep the cargo netted and secured for ground transportation. Once the cargo has been transported to the customer it is very rare any part of the 463L pallet system will be returned back to the Air Force and recycled back in to the cargo system for proper use.
Observation 3: Air Force 463L Pallets improperly used overhead shelter protection.
Discussion: With the big surge of deployment there were not enough bunkers and Hesco barriers to go around, as they could not be produced fast enough. 463L pallets made great platforms as emergency bunker build up. They can be used for a strong and sturdy roof tops which is able to support heavy loads of dirt piled on top of them. Therefore became a very common item to use in shelter build ups in remote locations with limited resources. Although 463L were being misused as safety shelters all 463L pallets became victim of a 100% recall after the Air Force when in to a critical shortage. When teams started to tear down shelter protections it became a safety concern as troops would run to shelter for protection to find the shelter they believed was no longer as it was already tore down by the 463L pallet recovery team. Tearing down shelters to retrieve 463L pallets came to a quick stop.
Recommendation: In future units can have some sort of portal bunker kit as part of their unit MTOE. A device that is light weight, strong, foldable and can be transported within a unit Tri-Con shipping containers. When a unit is deployed to remote location and unable to acquire the proper bunker material instead of misusing 463L pallets the deployable bunker system can be used. Just a system that is able to be set up to provide coverage with sides and a roof and support enough dirt on top able to stop motor rounds in the event of an attack. A portable bunker system could be produced for much less the cost of a single $1,700 463L pallet system and also be more useful and quicker to set up.
Summary: We have learned from multiple deployments year after year Soldiers are resourceful, if what the military provides for them is not working they will acquire what works best with in their reach many times disregarding or neglecting to consider who may or may not be accountable for certain property, or may or may not have any concern what the proper use for the item is as long as it makes their quality of life better then that’s all that matters. When Soldiers find something that works for them time after time instead of fighting and looking for ways to take it away from the Solider it may be better just to learn from the Solider idea and instead try to find a solution to produce a alternative to what they truly need which could be cheaper and better for the warfighter.
POC: CW4 Michael A. Podesta, MOS 882A, XXX-XX-1133, DSN: 315-768-6123,

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