The purpose of this post is to discuss Army maintenance.
We will cover operational readiness, maintenance terms, PMCS, and other helpful tips and Army maintenance resources for small unit leaders.
Army Maintenance Operations are vital to the success of any Army unit.
No unit can fight and win on the battlefield without maintaining a high level of operational readiness.
If the tanks, guns, artillery and rifles don’t work, units cannot fight.
More importantly, all Army leaders have the responsibility to maintain their assigned equipment.
This includes the “safekeeping” of the equipment and ensuring it is fully-mission-capable.
In other words, could the unit deploy with their equipment right now?
And, would it work?
In the Army, we use the term “operational readiness” to describe the posture of our equipment.
In other words, your operational readiness rate corresponds with the percentage of fully-mission-capable equipment.
As of today, the Army standard is 90%.
For instance, if your unit has 20 tanks; your goal is to have 18 fully-mission-capable at any time.
Failure to maintain a high level of operational readiness is one of the fastest ways to get fired from your job.
Therefore, you need a basic understanding of unit maintenance and then you need to make it a high priority in your unit.
Now, let me take a few moments to discuss how unit maintenance works in the Army National Guard.
ARNG Maintenance Procedures
In the Army National Guard, unit maintenance operations are done differently than on Active Duty.
On Active Duty, units are responsible for their equipment 24/7.
They have unit maintenance personnel assigned to their unit to maintain the equipment.
If the repair can’t be done by the unit’s maintenance personnel, it is evacuated to a higher level of maintenance for repair.
In the Army National Guard, commanders are still responsible for maintaining their equipment.
During IDT weekend, Soldiers conduct PMCS and scheduled services on their equipment to ensure it is maintained properly.
Soldiers use a technical manual to PMCS the equipment.
When the Soldier finds faults with the equipment, he or she inputs that information onto the DA Form 5988E.
Depending on the fault, the equipment might be non-mission capable.
If the Soldier can repair the fault, he or she will.
If they can’t, they get assistance from the unit’s mechanics.
At the completion of motor stables, the 5988Es are collected by the unit’s leaders.
Next, the information is manually inputted into the SAMS-E box.
Each company sized element has a SAMS-E box.
Once the maintenance clerk inputs all the information from the 5988Es, he/she will order the required parts to fix the vehicle.
In addition, he/she will print out a Non-Mission-Capable / dead-lined equipment report.
This report identifies all the non-mission-capable vehicles and all the parts that are on order.
This report is then reviewed by unit leadership.
At this point, leaders establish maintenance priorities and determines which vehicles need to be repaired first.
Typically, pacing items are repaired first.
Next, equipment with minor repairs needs to get fixed.
Finally, equipment that needs new parts gets fixed when the ordered parts arrive.
Sometimes it can take 3-months or longer to receive a part.
Remember, everything I said above applies to National Guard units during their IDT weekend or Annual Training.
During the other 28-days per month, the unit has a Field Maintenance Shop (FMS) to support their maintenance operations.
The FMS Shop typically provides maintenance support to five or six different armories in the same geographical area.
The FMS Shop is staffed my military technicians, many of whom serve in the units they support.
If the FMS Shop can’t fix the equipment, it is sent to the state CSMS Shop.
Each state normally has one CSMS Shop that supports all the FMS Shops.
Once the equipment is repaired at either the FMS or CSMS Shop, the equipment is returned to the unit.
Important Army Maintenance Acronyms
SAMS-E – Standard Army Maintenance System Enhanced.
Computer used at the company-level to manage unit maintenance.
SARSS – Standard Army Retail Supply System.
This is how the Army orders class IX repair parts.
SARSS searches other Supply Support Activities, Installations and the Retail System.
SARSS can also track the status of parts from the time they are shipped until the time they are received.
PBUSE – Property Book Unit Supply Enhanced.
This STAMIS system is used by the Supply Sergeant in each unit.
PBUSE tracks property and help keeps accountability by managing hand receipts, lateral transfers, turn-ins, inventories and more.
026 Report – Non-Mission Capable Report created in the SAMS-E box.
This is a detailed list of all non-mission-capable equipment.
The 026 provides information about the equipment to include nomenclature, bumper #, reason for deadline, status of parts on order, days deadlined and much more.
Non-Mission-Capable – This is an equipment status.
When something is NMC, the equipment is not working properly and needs repair.
Fully-Mission Capable – equipment status; equipment is working fine with no need for repair.
Operational Readiness (OR) Rate – Percentage of vehicles that are fully-mission-capable.
To determine your OR rate, take the vehicles that are fully mission capable divided by the vehicles assigned.
For instance, if you have 10 tanks assigned and nine are fully mission capable, your OR rate is 90%.
FMS Shop – Field Maintenance Shop. Regionally located maintenance shop that provides maintenance to armories in a specific geographical location.
Most FMS Shops support 5-10 armories.
CSMS Shop – Combined Support Maintenance Shop.
Normally, there is one of these per state.
The CSMS Shop supports the FMS Shops.
It provides a higher level of maintenance.
Keys to Success:
If you want to achieve a high level of operational readiness in your unit, you should consider following the steps outlined below.
Be Prepared – Prior to conducting maintenance operations, formulate a game-plan.
Set a clear start time and finish time for your motor stables.
No matter what, schedule motor stables into your training schedule.
In addition, make sure you have spare parts and plenty of technical manuals and tools to conduct unit maintenance.
Have a Master List of all Unit Equipment – Keep a copy of the property book with you at all times.
If possible, have this information transcribed onto a large bulletin board.
Keep an updated copy with you so you can track the status of your equipment at all times.
Establish Standards – Make sure your Soldiers conduct PMCS in accordance with the equipment’s Technical Manual.
Additionally, establish a uniform standard, a start-time; end-time and what must be accomplished during motor stables.
Establish Priorities – You must establish maintenance priorities.
You must identify which tasks should be done first.
You must identify which pieces of equipment are mission critical too.
More importantly, you should begin with your most important equipment, your pacing items.
A pacing item is a mission critical piece of equipment.
An example of a pacing item is a M1 Abrams tank, an M2 Bradley or a military ambulance.
Be Involved – This is one of the most important things you can do.
During motor stables, put on your coveralls, roll-up your sleeves and get involved.
Don’t make the common mistake of just sitting in your office.
Get out there with the troops.
Spend 20-30 minutes with each of your troops.
PMCS a vehicle with them.
Spot Check – You must spot check your NCOs and Soldiers.
If you don’t, your Soldiers won’t take you as seriously.
At the end of motor stables review the 5988E forms.
Also, pick one random piece of equipment and PMCS it yourself.
Use the TM and see if the Soldier missed anything.
Eliminate Distractions – During Motor Stables, do your best to eliminate distractions.
In other words, don’t schedule additional requirements during maintenance operations.
If possible, have all of your Soldiers present to conduct maintenance operations.
Create a Friendly Competition – Everyone loves a friendly competition.
Find creative ways to make motor stables fun.
By following any of the steps list above, you can improve your unit maintenance program drastically.
Remember Company Commander, the buck stops with you.
You are personally responsible for everything that happens or doesn’t happen in your unit.
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