he flow of class IX (repair parts) is an integral
part of the maintenance process. Without
parts, faults will not get fixed. The longer it takes a repair part to arrive, the longer a piece of equipment is not mission capable (NMC).
My brigade was located at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Marez in Mosul, Iraq. Mosul is located in northern Iraq, approximately 172 miles from Logistics Support Area Anaconda in Balad, Iraq, and 560 miles from Kuwait. These two bases are hubs for class IX. Most parts either come from or go through these locations.
The average amount of time it takes for a part to come from Kuwait is 24 days, and the average amount of time it takes for a part to arrive from Balad is 14 days. This has had an enormous effect on our combat power. On average, NMC equipment remains that way for more than 20 days because of the sluggish flow of class IX parts.
Several things can be done to help mitigate this slow flow of repair parts.
Share Among Units
The easiest way to speed up to the flow of class IX in Iraq is to use unit resources. Every battalion maintenance program has a battalion maintenance technician. This warrant officer usually has many resources available to him because the Warrant Officer Corps is very tightly knit.
The 026 report (Equipment Deadlined Over XX Days by Battalion Report) with the entire brigade’s list of NMC equipment is emailed to every battalion. Each battalion maintenance technician should read the entire list to ensure that he does not have a part that a sister unit needs. If he does have a part that another unit needs, he should hand-carry or mail it to that unit. When units within the brigade look out for each other, they tend to have smaller 026 reports.
Other solutions to this issue have gone up our brigade’s channels to brigade. One solution that the support operations shop uses is called a “hi-pri” (high priority). Our brigade standard is to do a hi-pri if the estimated shipping date on the initial document exceeds 6 months.
At that point, the battalion maintenance clerk conducts research to identify the supply support activity (SSA) that has the part. This information is passed from the battalion maintenance technician through the materiel officer and the SSA technician to the routing code geographic manager, who will then call up the SSA technician at the location of the part and do a requisition.
Ordering a part hi-pri is similar to doing a walk-through at an SSA external to the unit. (Note: If a part is not located in any external SSAs in country, then the brigade will not mark the document as hi-pri.)
Arguably the best solution to the slow receipt of repair parts is to keep a liaison officer (LNO) at the hub location. My brigade’s LNO was located in Balad. This LNO should be a noncommissioned officer or officer who knows and understands the supply system. He would be responsible for mailing parts to the battalions in the brigade spread across Iraq.
One reason it takes parts so long to get from Balad to Mosul is that the units that pack the containers going to specific FOBs wait until a container is completely full of parts before sending the container north. (It is a waste of resources to ship a half-empty container.) With an LNO, however, parts can be walked through the hub SSA in Balad and mailed directly to a point of contact at the receiving unit. This process undoubtedly expedites the flow of class IX parts in Iraq. An LNO should definitely be used by all units.
The flow of class IX parts can be incredibly slow in Iraq. However, many solutions are available to help mitigate this problem. Before deploying, consider that this might be an issue and think of ways to help your unit. Maintaining equipment is an extremely important part of mission success, and maintenance is incomplete without class IX parts.