Above and Beyond the Call of Duty
EDS wins plaudits for its maintenance support in Bosnia
When American troops were deployed in fall 1995 to Bosnia and Hungary to support Operation Joint Endeavor, Electronic Data Systems went with them.
Since then, the $12.42 billion systems integrator based in Plano, Texas, has been sending a technician weekly from Worms, Germany, to the military staging area in Kaposva'r, Hungary, to repair some of the Army's IT equipment used in Bosnia.
That equipment includes desktop computers, laptops, personal computers and printers that EDS supplied to the Pentagon under two contracts worth $1 billion from July 1990 through September 1995.
The company is providing on-site maintenance and repair to U.S. troops in Bosnia as a goodwill gesture to the Department of Defense and not as specified in the two contracts. The company also has sharply increased its spare parts inventory at Worms and Hungary to speed up the maintenance process.
"Normally the Army would have to mail the equipment to our support center in Worms. They would repair the equipment and then mail it back into Bosnia," said Larry Heffer, warranty and maintenance manager for EDS. "We decided it was faster to send our own person there," he said. Without the technician working for EDS, the process would take five to six days. Having an on-site technician and support center means the process takes a matter of hours. If the technician does not have the part on site, the troops must wait three days to get the spare part from Carrollton, Texas.
EDS has been commended for its support of Operation Joint Endeavor by Brig. Gen. Robert L. Nabors, the commander of the primary information technology support agency, the 5th Signal Command, for American troops throughout Europe.
According to Heffer, EDS has gone "above and beyond the contractual limits" of its SMC and PC1 contracts. Heffer estimates there are a couple thousand pieces of equipment supplied by EDS in the field. "Because of the sudden deployment of U.S. troops to Bosnia, the troops didn't have a good inventory of what they took with them," he said.
EDS is the only American company providing the U.S. military with maintenance support in Kaposva'r, Hungary, according to Heffer.
"We may be losing money in the process, but it's important to get the machines back into the soldiers' hands, " said Heffer. He would not say how much it costs EDS to provide the maintenance support but EDS plans to do so until U.S. troops pull out of Bosnia. The military has told EDS that U.S. troops could be withdrawn in January 1997.
The EDS team spent time in Desert Storm perfecting its streamlined maintenance process. Heffer, who is located in Herndon, Va., gets an advance spreadsheet over the Internet of equipment being sent from the field in Bosnia to Hungary for repair. Heffer checks the serial numbers to identify the spare parts and where they are located. Spare parts are either in EDS' parts depot in Carrollton, Texas or the depot in Worms, Germany. The serial numbers of the parts located in Germany are then dispatched to the technician in order to prepare him for what is coming from the field to be repaired. Heffer is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and communicates daily with the Army in Hungary.
The technician who does the repair work for EDS attended a four-and-a-half-day training course that the government requires before any civilian or military personnel enter Bosnia and Hungary. During the session, participants sleep in tents for two to three hours a night, train for land mine detection and learn to handle foreigners begging for food.
The trainees are under full pack, running up and down hills through explosions in order to be prepared for wartime.
EDS has three major repair and parts depots that service equipment the company has provided to the U.S. military in the United States, Europe and Asia. They are in Worms, Germany, Seoul, Korea and Carrollton, Texas. EDS is responsible for maintaining more than 400,000 parts worldwide. The company operates in 40 countries with a team of more than 90,000 employees.