It is 0900 on the first duty day of the week—command
maintenance time. The battalion standing operating procedure
(SOP) calls this time “motor stables” or “assembly
area operations.” When Soldiers and junior leaders are
asked what the focus of the day’s command maintenance
is, many stare blankly or reply, “A walk-around inspection
of our vehicles as usual.” A look around the motor pool
confirms that noncommissioned officers (NCOs) are not on the
line supervising, the personnel conducting preventive maintenance
checks and services (PMCS) do not have manuals, and the battalion’s
senior leaders are nowhere to be seen.
If your unit’s command maintenance program
does not resemble this scenario, consider yourself fortunate.
Most units have maintenance SOPs that comply with Department
of the Army and higher headquarters standards, but many unit
personnel have difficulty translating these SOPs into viable
documents and battle plans for command maintenance.
A decisively executed command maintenance program is a multiechelon
training event that focuses on various battlefield operating
systems, provides feedback to the commander on the combat
readiness of unit equipment, and, most importantly, gives Soldiers
confidence in their vehicles, weapons, and personal equipment
through successful PMCS. Using the Eight-Step Training Model
that is found in several Army doctrinal references and usually
included in unit mission training plans, your unit can develop
a comprehensive command maintenance program and avoid the
Precombat checks (PCCs) and precombat inspections (PCIs) are
critical for all combat operations; command maintenance is
no different. The following PCCs and PCIs will help ensure
the successful execution of your unit’s command maintenance.
Publish a plan. Develop an operation order, fragmentary
order, or SOP for executing command maintenance, and publish
enough to allow subordinate units time to conduct their own
troop-leading procedures. Brief the plan at your unit training
meeting and incorporate it into unit training schedules to
ensure that all personnel are aware of the upcoming operation
and that other training events do not conflict with it.
Establish priorities and focus. Will the command
maintenance focus on high-mobility, multipurpose, wheeled vehicles
or light medium tactical vehicles? On weapons or nuclear, biological,
and chemical (NBC) equipment? On tentage or generators? Defining
maintenance priorities and focus areas can pay dividends by
allowing you to consolidate maintenance efforts.
Have all Soldiers present for duty. Command maintenance
is a prime-time training event. All other distracters, such
meetings, appointments, and classes, should be postponed to
allow time for maximum participation. Charge the NCO support
channel with ensuring that all Soldiers are present for command
maintenance. (The NCO support channel is the channel of communication
and supervision that exists from the command sergeants major
to the first sergeants and then to other NCOs and enlisted
Establish communications. A good technique to use
during command maintenance is to establish unit tactical operations
(TOCs) and command posts (CPs). Develop tracking charts for
command maintenance operations and post them in your TOCs and
CPs. Use command maintenance times to train your battle staffs
on TOC and CP operations and battle tracking by having them
pass information to higher and subordinate units, track personnel
and equipment status for the unit, and record results from
PMCS focus areas.
Certify and license leaders. PMCS certification should
be part of unit leader-development programs and incorporated
operations. It is impossible to ensure that subordinates are
performing PMCS to standard if you, their leader, have never
done it yourself.
Coordinate with external agencies. Contact
your direct support maintenance facility to obtain low-density
not used often for training purposes, such as electronic test
equipment, materials-handling equipment
(MHE), and night-vision devices. Also ask for assistance from
various agencies, such as the International Trade Administration
for CONEX (container express) inspections and the local environmental
compliance office for shop safety advice, so that you can address
other critical maintenance areas.
Explain standards and performance measures. Have subordinates
conduct a backbrief to ensure that they understand the standards
and performance measures for command maintenance. This complements
unity of effort and can help resolve any con-flicts with command
guidance before execution.
Have applicable technical manuals, training circulars,
and supply catalogs on hand. Contact the Army Materiel
Command Logistics Support Activity (www.logsa.army.mil) and
Publications Directorate (www.usapa.army.mil) to make sure
you have the correct manuals for each piece of equipment on
your modification table of organization and equipment (MTOE).
Charge the unit publications NCO and the subordinate commanders
with maintaining adequate stocks of manuals for each item.
Identify safety-of-use, maintenance-advisory, and general-purpose
messages. Have your unit motor officer or safety officer
check frequently with the Army Combat Readiness Center to ensure
that the unit has all current combat safety messages on hand.
Check equipment for compliance with new messages during the
command maintenance period.
Have tracking systems in place and checklists on hand. Subordinate
leaders should have a copy of the motor stable order; a breakdown,
by section, of the critical equipment they are responsible
for checking and servicing; and a battle roster of Soldiers
and their equipment and weapons. This reduces idle time and
gives senior leaders an opportunity to spot-check progress
effortlessly during the operation.
Identify quality assurance inspectors. First-line
supervisors and platoon sergeants are responsible for ensuring
PMCS process is completed correctly and to standard. If necessary,
recruit technical inspectors from the organizational motor
pool and the direct support facility if PMCS must be conducted
on low-density equipment or equipment unfamiliar to the unit.
Have Department of the Army Forms 5988–E, Equipment
Maintenance and Inspection Worksheet, on hand. Time is
often wasted during command maintenance when Soldiers have
to wait for these forms
to be printed. The forms should be printed and distributed
down to platoon-sergeant level the working day before command
maintenance, giving Soldiers maximum time to perform PMCS
of their equipment to standard.
Locate reports required for after-action reviews (AARs). An
AAR must be conducted after every training event, including
command maintenance. Including an AAR in your unit maintenance
meeting provides a vehicle for recording feedback to the command
maintenance plan and informs the commander of progress made
and deficiencies discovered. To prepare for the AAR, the following
reports should be readily available—
From the Unit Level Logistics System (ULLS)-Ground: the Commander
Not-Mission-Capable Report, Service Schedule, and Parts Received/Not
From the Standard Army Maintenance System (SAMS)–1:
the Shop Section Summary and Shop Backlog Report.
From SAMS–2: the Brigade Combat Team/Task Force Critical
Items Deadlined Report.
From your supply support activity: the Overage Recoverable
Item Listing Report and Authorized Stockage List.
mechanic with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company,
3d Corps Support Command, motor pool works on a humvee
engine during command maintenance.
Once the PCCs and PCIs are completed to standard, your unit
is ready to conduct command maintenance effectively. It
is essential to focus PMCS efforts so
that each piece of equipment assigned to the unit is thoroughly
checked and serviced within a specified time period. The
below allows for PMCS of all assigned unit MTOE equipment
over a 6-week period.
Week 1: Direct support capabilities. This refers
to maintenance of equipment that is essential to the conduct
of the unit’s
wartime mission. In a support battalion, equipment to be
serviced during this week could include reverse osmosis water
units, water blivets, and slings; fuel sys-tem supply points;
direct support transportation assets (light medium tactical
vehicles, stake-and-platform trailers, and heavy equipment
transporters); ambulances; medical equipment sets; laboratory,
x-ray, and dental shop vans; and electronic repair semitrailers
(housing Integrated Family of Test Equipment and Direct
Support Electronic Test Sets).
Week 2: Prime movers not checked and serviced during week
1. This includes vehicles such as humvees, family of medium
tactical vehicles trucks, and expansible vans.
Week 3: Soldier personal equipment. Included are night
vision devices, weapon systems with mounts and tripods,
NBC protective equipment.
Week 4: Soldier deployment apparatus. In this
category are all communications devices (telephones, radios,
and cryptographic devices) and containerization equipment,
such as CONEXs and MILVANs (military-owned demountable
Week 5: Trailers and MHE. This refers
to semi-trailers and vans, air-conditioning systems, generators,
forklifts, and cranes.
Week 6: Unit common table of allowances equipment. Systems
to be checked and serviced in-clude steam cleaners, tentage,
camouflage netting and supports, and heaters. Unit commanders
also should use this time to conduct cyclic inventories in
accordance with Command Supply Discipline Program guidelines.
An additional area of focus throughout the execution of command
maintenance operations is safety. Unit safety officers should
select a focus area and conduct joint informal inspections
with the chain of command to provide additional insight into
unit risk management and safety procedures. Inspection areas
include hazardous materials storage; shop operations; shop
safety boards; individual protective equipment; spill kits;
steam cleaners; battery shop operations; tire machines; and
current safety-of-use messages, ground precautionary messages,
and maintenance advisory messages. Personnel from the installation
headquarters or higher can provide assistance with these inspections.
An AAR at the conclusion of command maintenance is essential.
This provides commanders at all levels with immediate feedback
on the combat readiness of their equipment. If your unit is
experiencing difficulty with troubleshooting or completing
PMCS on its equipment, contact support agencies immediately
so that they can positively influence the situation. Having
representation from your supply support activity also allows
support agencies to be brought in early. Requested ULLS reports,
such as the Service Schedule and Parts Received/Not Installed
Report also should be brought to the AAR and discussed so
that potential problems can be identified and resolved.
Conducting preexecution command maintenance to the proper level
of detail is a time-consuming task. However, every Soldier
must learn to conduct PMCS to standard—by the book, by
the numbers. His life may one day depend on it.
The operation order for today’s command
maintenance was briefed by the battalion S–3 at the
battalion training meeting 3 weeks ago. It is now 0900 on
the first duty day of the week—command maintenance time.
When Soldiers and junior leaders are asked what is the focus
of the day’s command maintenance, leaders refer to the
company order that their commander gave them at the company
training meeting: Week 1 will be devoted to PMCS of direct
support assets as prescribed in the battalion SOP. All unit
NCOs are on the line supervising PMCS, each vehicle operator
has an equipment manual, and the officers are tracking unit
readiness from the TOC and spot-checking the unit motor pools
as directed by the commander. A platoon sergeant tells his
new lieutenant, “Our unit knows how to conduct PMCS
the right way.”
Captain Eric A. McCoy is the Brigade Combat Team Maintenance
Trainer for the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California.
When he wrote this article, he was the Commander of E Company,
Battalion, at Camp Casey, Korea. He has a B.S. degree in
mental health from Morgan State University and an M.S. degree
from Central Michigan University. He is a graduate of the
Ordnance Officer Basic Course and the Combined Logistics
Captains Career Course.
The author would like to thank Lieutenant Colonel Edward
M. Daly for his assistance in preparing this article. Colonel
Daly is a liaison officer with the Combined Forces Command
in Kabul, Afghanistan. He previously served as the Commander
of the 702d Main Support Battalion at Camp Casey, Korea.