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PMCS: Key to Readiness
During Deployment

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.

Training

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.


Connectivity

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 may not 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.

Fleet Readiness

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.


Fuel Systems

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 and diagnosis, 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 part numbers 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 test 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 Carolina. He recently redeployed from Logistics Support Area Anaconda in Balad, Iraq.