The key to mission success is being effective.
Although efficiency is logistically important, without effectiveness,
efficiency is irrelevant.
In recent years, Army National Guard aviation classification
repair activity depots (AVCRADs) have transformed faster than
changes could be made to their tables of distribution and allowances
or modification tables of organization and equipment. Deploying
to Southwest Asia while they are transforming has increased
the challenges AVCRADs face.
An AVCRAD performs two combat service support (CSS) functions
executed at the depot level: maintenance and supply. It is
responsible for limited depot aircraft maintenance, component
repair, pass-back aviation intermediate maintenance (AVIM),
and operation of a supply support activity (SSA). [Pass-back
AVIM is repair that cannot be performed by the units designated
to provide it because they have an excessive amount of work
requests, lack personnel with the required training and expertise,
or lack the proper tools and equipment.]
The Army National Guard has four AVCRADs. They are located
in Connecticut, Mississippi, Missouri, and California. These
units were originally designed either to operate from a fixed
base at their home stations or to fall in on Corpus Christi
Army Depot, Texas, to augment that depot’s workforce.
AVCRADs deployed to the Southwest Asia area of operations support
aviation reception, staging, onward movement, and integration
(RSO&I) and the National Maintenance Program (NMP) for
Army Materiel Command (AMC) Southwest Asia. The AVCRADs also
are the Coalition Forces Land Component Command's (CFLCC's)
reserve aviation maintenance resource.
AVCRADs have been instrumental in providing aviation maintenance
support for Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom
(OEF). The 1109th AVCRAD in Groton, Connecticut, deployed to
OIF 1 in 2003 and established depot operations in a warehouse
in Kuwait. The 1107th AVCRAD in Springfield, Missouri, took
over operation of the warehouse from the 1109th in 2004 and
converted the warehouse into a series of shops that produced
depot-repaired components in support of the NMP. The 1106th
AVCRAD in Fresno, California, deployed to Kuwait in 2005 to
support OIF 04–06
and expanded the operation to provide support to OEF. This
article describes the experiences of the 1106th AVCRAD.
in Afghanistan remove the engine from a CH–47
Mission Analysis Team
Within a month of its arrival in Kuwait, the 1106th AVCRAD
sent a mission analysis team to Iraq to determine the warfighters’ forward
depot operations needs. The key problems identified by the
team were difficulty in moving maintenance contact teams
and components within the theater and in communicating requirements
from units in Iraq to the AVCRAD in Kuwait.
From the initial identification
of a maintenance requirement, it often took as long as 10 days
to move a depot contact
team into Iraq. Once the team was on site, it might not
of the materials and tools required for the job (due, in
part, to the difficulty in communicating
depot requirements to Kuwait). Another problem
was that aircraft on ground (AOG) components and other high-priority
components that were picked up by liaison officers at the
SSA in Kuwait often were lost in the transportation system.
is a supply status used for aviation parts that can only
be used when three or fewer parts are needed to make
an aircraft flyable. It is the highest priority aviation
logistics request. Using the AOG designator causes supply
personnel to expedite delivery of the parts so that the aircraft
can be back in operation in the shortest time possible.]
Field Manual 4–0, Combat Service Support, defines the
eight characteristics of CSS as responsiveness, simplicity,
flexibility, attainability, sustainability, survivability,
economy, and integration. The mission analysis team identified
three primary areas of concern for application of the CSS
characteristics: operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the
SSA, and maintenance support.
Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan
When an aircraft suffers battle damage or is damaged in a hard landing, for example,
it must be repaired and returned to the fight as quickly as possible. Repairing
a damaged aircraft requires parts, special tools, and skilled, technically adept
personnel. To meet these needs, the 1106th AVCRAD developed the forward operations
cell (FOC) concept of support.
The FOC provided depot expertise forward to communicate requirements, positioned
a movement control team (MCT) in Iraq to manage parts flow, stationed depot teams
and tools forward to reduce response time, and served as a forward command and
control node for the AVCRAD commanders. The FOC was able to respond to customer
requirements within minutes or hours instead of days, as had been the case when
the AVCRAD had to respond from Kuwait.
classify retrograde aviation parts in Iraq before
shipping them to Kuwait by truck. Only those parts
be repaired in Kuwait will be shipped there. The
other parts will be shipped by strategic airlift
to the continental United States for repair.
Supply Support Activity
After an AOG component was picked up from the SSA, visibility
of that component was lost for the 4 to 7 days that it took
to get it to the unit. Sometimes
the components got lost in the transportation system. The 1106th developed
mechanism and established MCTs at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, and at Camp
Anaconda, Iraq, to expedite the movement of AOG components. As a result,
delivery time was reduced to 1 1/2 to 2 1⁄2 days.
When the 1106th took over operations in December 2004, the SSA contained
approximately 7,000 lines of authorized stockage list and nonstockage list
items. The SSA routing
identifier code was not on the Standard Army Retail Supply System (SARSS)
search matrix, so the only way units in Iraq could get components was by
using a walk-through
process established by CFLCC. To automate the process, the 1106th coordinated
with CFLCC to establish a new SSA routing identifier code in the search matrix
in order to deplete the nonstockage list items andplace NMP-repaired components
into the search matrix. To make more parts readily available to the warfighter,
the 1106th established a remote SSA in Iraq that was filled with approximately
30 lines of critical, high-use components. This reduced the fill time of
requests for those AOG components from 2 to 4 days to 1 hour.
The AVCRAD component repair mission required that unserviceable, reparable
components be transported to Kuwait. Often, after receiving a component,
the AVCRAD found that it would have to be evacuated to the continental United
States (CONUS) for repair. Part of the FOC mission was to reduce the number
of components being transported unnecessarily on the hazardous roads of Iraq
by placing AVCRAD supply and technical inspectors forward in Iraq to classify
unserviceable equipment. Only components that could be repaired by the AVCRAD’s
shops were shipped to Kuwait. Components that could not be repaired in Kuwait
were consolidated and shipped by strategic airlift back to the appropriate
The 1106th refined the maintenance process and made it more effective by
selecting as critical components only those that are used extensively by
Southwest Asia units in order to focus repair capability on fewer components.
This reduced NMP repair lines by one-third. The portion of the AVCRAD’s
workload devoted to repair and return was reduced from 50 percent to 10 percent,
and the portion devoted to the NMP was increased to 90 percent. This reduced
the number of lost repaired components and the time customers had to wait
for serviceable parts. A repair
transaction effectively became a supply transaction ordering parts for the
customers instead of a work order transaction sending parts for repair, with
its accompanying difficulties of transportation, repair, and coordination.
recover a downed CH–47 Chinook
helicopter in Kuwait as part of their reception,
staging, onward movement, and integration support
Application of CSS Characteristics
The AVCRAD had to take the CSS characteristics into account when deciding
how to address the problems identified by the mission analysis team. They
addressed each of the characteristics as follows.
Responsiveness. Responsiveness is providing the right support in the right
place at the right time. This was accomplished by establishing FOCs in Iraq
and Afghanistan. The FOCs provided depot supply, maintenance, aircraft battle-damage
repair, assessment, and technical assistance support forward, eliminating
the customer wait time previously required for coordination and transportation
Simplicity. This characteristic was exemplified through the establishment
of a system for tracking AOG components being transported from Kuwait to
customers in Iraq. Establishing MCTs to account for AOG components leaving
Kuwait and arriving in Iraq was a simple concept. It involved placing Soldiers
at chokepoints to track specific components and intercede at the first sign
of trouble. This did more to improve delivery times and reduce the loss of
parts in the system than any other procedure put into place. The MCTs also
established an Army Knowledge Online collaboration site using Excel spreadsheets
so that supported customers could track their AOG components in the system.
Flexibility. The 1106th Soldiers demonstrated their adaptability many
times during this deployment. Flexibility was crucial to having an effective
operation. The lines of communication and transportation between the customers
and the AVCRAD presented the greatest obstacle for the Southwest Asia operation.
In the past, the AVCRADs had not established or operated FOCs or run MCTs
and they were not part of the AVCRAD’s established mission. To deliver
the right support to the warfighter in Iraq and Afghanistan, leaders had
to think “outside the box.” This was demonstrated by the establishment
of a second SSA, use of MCTs, and placement of FOCs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Attainability. Attainability is the ability to determine the minimum
essential support needed to begin operations. The 1106th displayed this
with the phased establishment and manning of the FOCs. While the AVCRAD
was heavily involved in RSO&I operations at the beginning of the deployment,
it continued to maintain a minimum support presence in the FOCs. During the
operational phase of the deployment, it manned the FOCs very robustly to
assist in meeting pass-back AVIM and depot maintenance requirements in Iraq
and Afghanistan. At the end of its rotation, the 1106th reduced the manning
of FOCs to support redeploying forces in Kuwait and the inbound deploying
forces through the RSO&I process.
Sustainability. Sustainability is the ability to maintain continuous
support during all phases of operations. Sustainability was demonstrated
by the manning level reductions and increases made at different phases
of the deployment. The AVCRAD commander ensured that the unit was never
in operations that would hinder its ability to lift and shift resources
to higher priority requirements. This strategy was established to maintain
ability to be the theater commander’s reserve maintenance capability
for unforeseen mission requirements.
A good example of this was the AVCRAD’s involvement in an air port
of debarkation to sea port of debarkation operation in Qatar. A strategic
air-to-sea-lift operation was used to move aviation units from Afghanistan
using intratheater airlift assets to Qatar for redeployment using sealift
Survivability. Survivability is the ability to protect support
functions from destruction or degradation. The supply personnel and technical
inspectors, working together to classify aircraft components as far forward
supported the survivability of U.S. forces by reducing the amount of retrograde
components trucked to Kuwait on the treacherous highways of Iraq. One less
truck on the road was one less risk for the Soldiers and contractors supporting
the war effort.
Economy. Economy is providing the most
efficient support to accomplish the mission. A benefit of determining
repair requirements forward was that unserviceable
components were sent directly to the quickest source of repair, whether
that was in Kuwait or CONUS. This ensured that components were
not delayed in
transit and were quickly repaired and returned to the warfighter.
Integration. Integration consists of synchronizing CSS operations with all
aspects of operations. The 1106th AVCRAD depended on CFLCC, AMC Southwest
Asia, and the Multinational Corps-Iraq to establish priorities when resources
were short. It established liaisons with aviation brigades and battalions
in Iraq and Afghanistan to ensure that customer requirements were properly
identified and supported. Through its forward presence and use of liaison
officers, the 1106th became part of the brigade combat teams.
Through the effective and efficient application of the CSS characteristics,
the 1106th AVCRAD made itself a combat multiplier for OIF and OEF. Depot
support was placed forward in Iraq and Afghanistan, reducing response
time to hours versus weeks and days. AOG average wait time was reduced
an average of 5 to 7 days to 1 1⁄2 to 2 1⁄2 days.
Lieutenant Colonel Mark A. Van Dyke, California Army National Guard, is the
Commander of the 1st Battalion, 140th Aviation
Regiment, in Los Alamitos, California. He was the Operations Officer for
the 1106th Aviation Classification Repair Activity Depot in Fresno, California,
when it deployed to Kuwait in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring
Freedom. He has a B.A. degree in organizational development and human resources
from Fresno Pacific University and is a graduate of the Army Command and
General Staff College.