High operating tempo and low manning levels make
preventive maintenance checks and services an ongoing challenge
during deployment. To ensure equipment readiness, must enforce
unit standing operating procedures and be vigilant of developing trends.
Routine preventive maintenance checks and services (PMCS)
are no match for the environmental extremes of Iraq and Kuwait.
During sandstorms, sand is sucked into engines, where it wreaks
havoc on moving parts, adding years of wear and tear in mere
months. Intense heat and airborne dust cause vehicle starters
and generators to fail and air, fuel, and oil filters to clog.
Weekly command maintenance is needed to ensure the readiness
of all equipment, including ground vehicles, weapons, communications
equipment, night-vision devices, and nuclear, biological,
and chemical equipment.
Before deployment, Soldiers must be trained to operate and maintain the equipment
they will support in theater. Army National Guard and Army Reserve mechanics
working with Active Army units may be unfamiliar with the stay-behind equipment
(SBE) they fall in on. Untrained and sometimes unlicensed operators are a safety
risk and can cause unnecessary wear and tear on vehicles. All operators must
be trained and licensed before deployment.
Reserve component maintenance units often arrive in theater without the special
tools and test equipment they need to maintain equipment. For example, the AN/GRM–122
radio test set is needed to verify, test, and repair Single-Channel Ground and
Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) radios and their associated line-replaceable
units. The Army Materiel Command (AMC) SBE property book officer can help units
gain visibility of stay-behind systems.
policemen tighten the lug nuts on their M1117 armored
security vehicle at Camp Liberty, Iraq.
Most units in the field experience sporadic connectivity, often because of
inadequate systems training. Basic standing operating procedures (SOPs) that
are used to train Soldiers to operate Standard Army Management Information
Systems, such as the Unit Level Logistics System (ULLS), at their home stations
be adequate in a deployment environment. Operator and supervisor training
on these systems must be expanded to include training on the type of operations
and equipment likely to be encountered at the new location. For example, operators
and supervisors must be trained on new data transfer and unit identification
code (UIC) architectures, operation and setup of Very Small Aperture Terminals
(VSATs), and Combat Service Support Automated Information Systems Interface
(CAISI) connectivity. It is important that operators and supervisors be
trained before the unit deploys.
ULLS–Ground is a critical tool during deployment. It automates unit supply,
maintenance, and materiel readiness management operations. It also can be used
to prepare unit supply documents, maintenance management records, readiness
reports, and property records. To maximize the utility of the system, the ULLS–Ground
software must be loaded properly onto the operator’s computer and the
supporting parameters set to interface with the Standard Army Maintenance System
and the Standard Army Retail Supply System. Unit combat service support automation
management offices may be able to help ensure that important equipment data,
such as equipment readiness codes and national stock numbers, are loaded.
Low vehicle density means that available vehicles are used extensively, which
negatively affects fleet readiness. For example, DV43 rough-terrain container
handlers have been used in several Operation Iraqi Freedom rotations and have
had consistently low readiness rates. Increased PMCS and operator training
are essential to improving the readiness of this equipment.
The high operating tempo (OPTEMPO) and harsh environmental conditions in Iraq
have spurred a high demand for repair parts for certain vehicles. Transmissions
for M2 Bradley fighting vehicles are a good example. Mileage on Bradleys driven
1 month in Iraq exceeds that for a similar vehicle driven 1 year elsewhere.
The extra weight of the Bradley reactive armor—approximately 5,000 pounds—and
the high OPTEMPO in the area of operations are causing frequent failures of
their transmissions. Failure
trends such as this highlight the importance of PMCS and proper scheduled maintenance.
at Camp Victory in Iraq check for leaks under a high-mobility,
multipurpose, wheeled vehicle.
The use of JP8 fuel in a hot environment can lead to loss of power, injector
system failure, and malfunction of components such as fuel pumps. Transmission
fluid or motor oil is sometimes added to ground equipment fuel to reduce friction
in the engines’ moving parts; however, this practice is not sanctioned
by the system project managers or AMC. Units must ensure that training for
maintenance operations in hot weather includes fuel system troubleshooting
including examination of pumps, injectors, fuel lines, filters, and separators.
Collateral Maintenance Requirements
Vehicles in Iraq that are equipped with add-on armor also are equipped with
commercial air-conditioning units to provide ventilation. Maintaining these
units can be critical to mission accomplishment. National stock numbers and
for components of these air-conditioning units have just begun to enter the
supply system. Many units supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom have had difficulty
getting proper repair parts, cleaning and maintenance tools, and refrigerant
needed for their vehicle air-conditioning systems. Without air conditioning,
many vehicles are deadlined during hot weather. Operator and maintainer training
before deployment should include proper PMCS of air-conditioning systems,
and prescribed load lists should include repair parts and special tools and
equipment needed to maintain the systems.
PMCS must be command driven and enforced to ensure proper care of equipment.
High OPTEMPO, low vehicle density, and insufficient manning levels require
commanders to monitor maintenance trends and enforce a carefully written SOP
in order to
maintain equipment readiness on the battlefields of Iraq. ALOG
Sergeant Jermaine Boyd is a light-wheel vehicle mechanic assigned to the
Corps Distribution Command, 1st Corps Support Command, at Fort Bragg, North
He recently redeployed from Logistics Support Area Anaconda in Balad, Iraq.