The changing mission requirements of today's Army create a need for responsive and flexible integrated logistics that does not compromise maneuverability. The component repair company (CRC) enhances both responsiveness and flexibility in logistics support at the operational level and allows for a leaner support structure at the tactical level.
CRCs augment the depot repair concept by moving component repairs closer to the forward line of troops, thereby reducing the number of components that have to travel between the customer and the component repair depot. By extending the lifespan of repair parts that are already in the Army system, CRCs reduce the number of components the Army needs to purchase each year.
The mission of a CRC is to perform sustainment maintenance repairs on equipment components (off-system repair and return to supply system). The CRC can traditionally be found at either the corps or theater level, but it occasionally attaches platoons to lower echelons.
The CRC is a product of Army modularization under the "fix forward/repair rear" concept and operates with an increasing number of Government civilians and contractors. The primary focus of the CRC is the repair of electronic systems, but the unit also has repair sections that support component restoration for fuel equipment, armament and artillery systems, automotive equipment, ground support equipment, chemical systems, and engineer equipment.
Equipment component repairs at the tactical level under the Army of Excellence model created a large logistics footprint and limited the maneuverability of combat arms units. One of the solutions to improve mobility was to move component repairs off the battlefield, thus eliminating heavy component repair sections from tactical-level maneuver. However, detaching the component repair capability from the tactical level would reduce logistics responsiveness, so the Army formed CRCs from general support units to close the gaps created by modularization.
|A Soldier from B Battery, 2d Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, changes out components on a group of Raven unmanned aerial vehicles. (Photo by SFC John Laughter)
CRCs generally contain between 140 and 180 personnel. All 19 CRCs belong to the Army National Guard. A CRC is composed of a headquarters section, a maintenance control section, and a service and recovery section. Specialized modules are then attached to the CRC depending on the mission. A typical CRC will contain an automotive repair platoon, a ground support equipment repair platoon, an armament repair platoon, an electronic repair platoon, a component repair platoon, and possibly a test, measurement, and diagnostic equipment support team.
All CRC modules are certified by the National Maintenance Training Center at Camp Dodge, Iowa. In rare instances, a collection and classification platoon will be attached to the CRC to reduce some of the distribution required in returning parts to the supply system.
Army acquisition agents use calculations to predict the number of parts needed each year, based on the mission set and historical data. After forecasting the number of parts needed for the year, the Army negotiates contracts to purchase the parts from civilian companies. Contracts for parts take months to develop, process, and award to contractors, and the predictions often are inaccurate.
Changing mission requirements and other variables make it difficult for an Army acquisition agent to practice proper supply discipline and predict Army needs accurately, so the CRC acts as a buffer between theory and reality by making unserviceable parts that are already in the supply system available through repairs. Without the CRC, the Army would receive only the number of parts contracted for the year and requests for parts above that number would not be filled until the next contract year.
The CRC's objective is to reduce part back-order times that are caused by having too few serviceable parts available in the system. The CRC offers flexibility to Army acquisition agents by reducing the amount of accuracy required in estimating the number of items that the Army needs to purchase each year. The CRC backfills shortfalls by repairing parts already in the system.
|(Photo by SGT Kimberly Johnson)
Getting Components to the CRC
As noted by John R. Folkeson and Marygail K. Brauner in their report, "Improving the Army's Management of Reparable Spare Parts," one problem in component repair is that the backhaul of unserviceable parts is the lowest priority for movement in the distribution system. If the end-user battalion has a part on hand in its combat spares or at the supporting supply support activity (SSA), the equipment is repaired and the unit has no incentive to return the unserviceable component to the supply system rapidly. The unit has months to return the unserviceable part to the SSA under exchange pricing before the Army enforces penalties.
Once the unserviceable part is returned to the SSA, the part becomes the lowest priority for movement to a collection and classification company for sorting. After sorting, the unserviceable part once again becomes low priority for movement to a CRC. Most repairs on parts at the CRC only take one or two shifts to complete.
Most of the time that a part is unavailable for use is spent not in the shop for repairs but awaiting movement in the distribution system or at the unit of origin awaiting turn-in. To remedy the situation and reduce backorder times, the Army should adjust the exchange pricing system by reducing timelines for recoverable parts turn-in. Unserviceable parts for pacing items should also receive a higher priority for retrograde.
Budget difficulties and changing mission requirements create a need for integrated logistics responsiveness and flexibility. The CRC helps provide this at the operational level, allowing for a leaner support structure at the tactical level. CRCs move component repairs closer to the forward line of troops, reduce the number of components that have to travel between the unit and the component repair depot, and reduce the number of components the Army needs to purchase.