During peacetime, FSBs and BSBs do not have enough
maintenance personnel to meet maintenance requirements. The
author suggests augmenting the battalions with civilian mechanics
to alleviate this shortfall.
In garrison, units are required to maintain an
equipment operational readiness (OR) rate of 90 percent. This
is nearly impossible because not enough mechanics are available
in garrison to perform the required maintenance and needed
repairs of their vehicles. This personnel shortage exists because
authorizations are based on wartime requirements. In wartime,
Soldiers work longer days than in peacetime, 7 days a week,
and they do not have the personal time off for weekends, Federal
holidays, and training holidays or the time off for physical
training and mandatory training that Soldiers in peacetime
A study of military occupational specialty (MOS) 63B (light-wheel vehicle mechanic)
workloads in the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky,
confirmed the shortage of mechanics in peacetime. This was true not only of legacy
forward support battalions (FSBs) but also of transformed brigade support battalions
(BSBs). Lack of sufficient personnel to meet peacetime maintenance requirements
is a significant issue that the Army needs to address as it transforms.
and change have always been inseparable. However,
the pace of changes in organizational orientation,
technological advances, the rapid introduction of
new systems, and the requirement for flexibility
in priorities, has created an unprecedented fluidity
in force management procedures, processes, and information.
— Army Regulation 71–32,
Force Development and
In January 2004, the Chief of Staff of the Army, General
Peter J. Schoomaker, directed the Army to transform its
10 divisions into more than 40 modular,
stand-alone units called units of action (UAs) [now referred to as brigade
combat teams (BCTs)]. The plan called for several different types of UAs,
including infantry, aviation, fires (artillery), and sustainment.
This concept required
that each UA have the ability to operate independently and self-sustain.
Self-sustainment would be provided by an organic, multifunctional
combat service support unit—the
BSB. The BSB would provide the following core services: water production
and storage; requisition, distribution, management, and
storage of all classes
of supply; mortuary affairs; transportation; combat health support; and most
direct support (DS) and below maintenance.
Maintenance transformation changed the legacy four-level system (unit maintenance,
DS, general support, and depot maintenance) to a two-level system (field maintenance
and sustainment maintenance). The legacy unit maintenance and DS maintenance
functions were combined and now are conducted at the unit level. Thus, the
maintenance,” which is used to describe the first level of the legacy system,
is also used interchangeably with the new term, “field maintenance,” when
comparing FSB and BSB structures. To accommodate the new two-level maintenance
system, the Army Materiel Command is updating the maintenance allocation charts
found in the technical manuals of all wheeled systems. In the meantime, one
can assume that all tasks previously considered DS are now performed at the
maintenance, or unit, level.
Maintenance Personnel Shortfall
The 101st Airborne Division study analyzed MOS 63B workloads for 10 critical
vehicles. It found that annual 63B workload requirements were resourced during
peacetime at less than 66 percent for legacy FSBs and 73 percent for transformed
BSBs. This means that the FSBs and BSBs do not have enough mechanics to maintain
organizational equipment at the required 90 percent OR rate. (Note that the study
included only 10 vehicle types and did not include all vehicles that 63B mechanics
are required to maintain, so the actual percentages of personnel available to
complete required maintenance on all vehicles will be lower.)
Army Regulation (AR) 570–4, Manpower Management, indicates that each
maintenance Soldier in garrison is available 116 hours a month. However, authorization
which are driven by minimum mission-essential wartime requirements, indicate
that each Soldier would have to be available 269 hours per month to meet unit
maintenance requirements. Thus, a maintenance Soldier in garrison is available
less than half of the time needed to meet the required OR rate.
Force Development Process
The Manpower Requirements Criteria (MARC) is a collection of designators used
by requirements document developers to determine the number of personnel, by
MOS, needed to complete certain duties in a specific unit. Maintenance personnel
requirements based on the MARC usually translate directly into the requirements
documents without decrement. MARCs are based on the following crucial parameters—
• What is the unit’s mission?
• In what battlespace is the unit located?
• Does the unit move?
The MARC used for a BSB is 31A: 3 represents a combat service support unit, 1
means that it is in the maneuver brigade’s battlespace, and A means that
it moves frequently.
A U.S. Army Europe availability study conducted in 1992 produced an annual MOS
availability factor (AMAF) of 3,230 hours for an MOS 63B Soldier belonging to
a unit with a MARC of 31A. This figure computes to an availability of 62.12 hours
per week per Soldier. The same AMAF is designated for a BSB in AR 71–32,
Force Development and Documentation-Consolidated Policies, which defines minimum
mission-essential wartime requirements.
AR 570–4 attempts to reconcile some of the differences
among minimum mission-essential wartime requirements and
the realities of day-to-day availability of maintenance personnel
in garrison. These differences are of special concern to
maintainers. For instance, the mission availability factor
of 116 hours a month noted in this AR equates to about 29
hours per week, or 1,392 hours per year, compared to the
AMAF of 62.12 hours per week, or 3,230 per year. The chart
on page 5 illustrates FSB and BSB manpower versus workload
requirements in garrison.
Another important aspect of the force development process
is the Army MARC Maintenance Database (AMMDB) value for each
item of equipment, by line item number (LIN), for which the
unit maintenance and DS requirements are identified. Although
unit maintenance and DS requirements are listed, only unit
maintenance requirements were included in the final computation
of the 101st Airborne Division study because legacy FSBs
are still operating under the four-level maintenance management
model. Furthermore, the AMMDB no longer includes separate
workload data for MOSs 63B, 63S, and 63W because the three
MOSs have been consolidated and 63S and 63W no longer exist.
Therefore, it is impossible to determine maintenance workloads
that existed for these MOSs before the maintenance transformation
AMMDB Values Analysis Summary
The tables above show one thing clearly: FSBs and BSBs do not have enough
63Bs to maintain ground wheeled systems properly in garrison. Reducing
the total annual maintenance man-hour requirement of 32,551.2 by 10 percent
to account for the 90 percent OR rate required by AR 220–1, Unit
Status Reporting, leaves FSBs with an annual requirement of 29,296.08 hours
but a capability of only 19,488 hours, which yields an annual shortfall
of 9,808.08 hours. The FSB AMMDB Values Table includes only a sample of
the wheeled systems in the FSB, and the manpower still is woefully short.
Note that only organizational workload requirements are included in this
The results of the computations on the BSB–FSB AMMDB Values Table are similar
to those on the Legacy FSB Values Table. After reducing the total annual requirement
by 10 percent to account for the 90 percent OR rate, the BSB had an annual shortfall
of 22,004 hours. The main difference in the two tables is that the BSB–FSB
AMMDB Values table includes both unit maintenance and DS workloads because
of the transition from a four-level maintenance model to two-level maintenance.
All BSB leaders throughout the Army need to review their modification tables
of organization and equipment (TOEs) and compare the AMMDB values with their
authorized 63B strengths. Then those leaders must request augmentation tables
of distribution and allowances to bridge the maintenance manpower shortfalls
in garrison. An augmentation TDA puts civilian mechanics in the motor pool
to help meet the maintenance requirements. For example, assuming 50 productive
per year and 40 hours of productive labor per week, each BSB in the 101st Airborne
Division needs 11 full-time civilian equivalents.
With current allocations, BSBs will not be able to meet their maintenance requirements
in garrison. The Army must correct this deficiency in order to maintain a current
and ready force. Using civilian mechanics to augment the military is one viable
solution to this problem.
Captain James B. Swift is an action officer in the Collective Training
Directorate of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
He has a B.S. degree in biology from Truman State University in Missouri,
an M.S. degree in healthcare administration from Central Michigan
University, and an M.S. degree in logistics from the Florida Institute
He is a graduate of the Combined Logistics Officers Advanced Course
and the Army Logistics Management College’s Support Operations
Course, Multinational Logistics Course, Joint Course on Logistics,
and Logistics Executive Development Course.
The author wishes to thank Lieutenant Colonel Duane Gamble, Major
Kirk Whitson, and Major Spencer Smith for their assistance in conducting
the study on which this article is based.