By Army National Guard Capt. Al Phillips
New Your National Guard
NEW YORK (7/11/12) - South African National Defense Force officials learned how the New York Army National Guard conducts logistics operations during their visit to the historic Lexington Avenue Armory here July 3.
The New York National Guard is partnered with the Republic of South Africa through the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program, and the visit was just one of many opportunities the two military forces could exchange best practices.
South African National Defense Force Lt. Gen. J.T. Nkonyane, the chief of logistics for the SANDF, and members of his team received an informational overview of how military logistics works for the New York Army National Guard at the federal and state level.
"It is our opportunity to share some of our best practices that consistently produce results and shape sustainment operations," said Army Lt. Col. Kaarlo Hietala, deputy director of logistics, "as well as to hear an outside opinion on things that we could expand or improve on for the future."
Also representing South Africa were Sithuthakile Mkhwanazi, the South African Defense Force director of asset management, and the South African National Defense Force director of facilities, Brig. Gen. Getrude Mngadi.
The South Africans had the opportunity to discuss a range of logistical issues with their counterparts, including the New York National Guard Joint Staff director, Army Col. Ray Shields and the Construction Facility Manager Army Lt. Col. Andrew Stewart.
"What we want to do is benchmark ourselves on logistics, process and key procedures," Mkhwanazi said.
Hietala showed the South Africans ways in which the New York National Guard supplies troops and maintains inventory and readiness of the more than 2,500 vehicles in the New York Army National Guard. He also outlined how the network of maintenance facilities located across the state of New York works to assist local units.
Stewart outlined how the Guard manages complex logistical operations through its data processing systems like the Standard Army Maintenance System-Enhanced and the Standard Army Retail Supply System, as well as the importance of understanding the technical know-how in order to relate the statuses to grounds-keeping, accounting and reporting, and/or marketing.
"The New York National Guard and the South African Defense Force logistics operations both rely on the critical understanding of a staging base to initiate and execute movement," Stewart said.
Stewart went on to say the idea that facilities are the foundation for troop readiness is one commonality easily recognized between the two organizations.
"Today's informational overview on logistics in the New York National Guard describes a very complex logistics system where there is a lot to learn," Nkonyane said. "However, it is such a valuable experience because we are able to see different ways of reaching mission accomplishment.
“This has certainly been a trip worthwhile; the professionalism by the New York National Guard produces great impact."
The visit was part of a week-long tour hosted by the New York National Guard State Partnership Program. The group also went to Stewart Air National Guard Base and the New York Air National Guard's 105th Airlift Wing in Newburg, N.Y.
"New York State's Partnership with the Republic of South Africa is a critical component of the United States' overall regional engagement strategy," Shields said. "By working with our counterparts in the South African National Defense Force, the service members of the New York National Guard are helping to foster better relations on the continent of Africa," he said.