The Army Is Increasing Combat Gear Stockpiles in Europe and Pacific

Gen. Gustave F. Perna delivers his remarks
Gen. Gustave F. Perna, U.S. Army Materiel Command commanding general, left, delivers his remarks during a ceremony at the Indiana War Memorial in Indianapolis, Oct. 25, 2019. (U.S. Army photo/Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner)

The head of Army Materiel Command said Tuesday that the service is drafting plans to expand its prepositioned sets of combat equipment in Europe and the Pacific to better prepare for future conflict.

"I am responsible for maintaining the Army Prepositioned Stocks (APS)," said Gen. Gustave "Gus" Perna, head of Army Materiel Command. "As of right now, I am actually building an additional set that I have been directed to build" for the European theater.

"We are already working on ways to expand APS out in the Pacific," he added.

The Army positions sets of APS around the world so brigade combat teams and other units can deploy rapidly and draw new combat equipment from them.

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"We also position it so that those who are always watching us know that we are ready, that we have capabilities around the world, and it's a matter of just getting on a plane and drawing that equipment," Perna told reporters Tuesday at a Defense Writers Group breakfast.

He said the Army will likely take lessons from the upcoming Defender-Europe 2020 exercise to rethink how APS is outfitted and positioned in Europe.

"I can envision where [Defender-Europe] 2020 might illuminate several things: Is it in the right place, do we need to adjust, do we want to set up alternate sites to keep everybody guessing about what we are doing, is there a better place to put things for a better advantage?" Perna said.

"I also think coming out of Defender 2020 might be a thought process of 'Hey, we need more, additional to what we have or we need different from what we have.' In other words, we have this capability, but that is really not what we needed. What we really need is this capability at the same location."

While he would not get into specifics, Perna said that leaders at Army Pacific Command will draft their strategy for APS and then "brief courses of action" to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville.

"We want to show our enemies ... we are not going to sit around and wait for you to start; we are going to be ready when you start," Perna said. "It's not just put it in a warehouse and high-five ourselves -- it's get it there, exercise it and demonstrate that we can maneuver around the Pacific."

APS, previously known as Activity Sets, have already gone through a significant redesign over the past several years, he said.

"Activity Sets and APS are two different things. Army Prepositioned Stocks serve a primary purpose -- to allow the president of the United States to make decisions and for us to execute rapidly," Perna said.

"An Activity Set [was] a bunch of equipment in some type of cantonment area that people use to train on -- two different things. And we have been very successful underneath Gen. Mark Milley and now Gen. McConville to eliminate those activity sets and focus readiness on Army Prepositioned Stocks.

"Our APS around the world are ready to go now."

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at

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