Army Maintenance Levels: What You Should Know

A key factor in having highly functional Army units is maintenance. While maintaining equipment and supplies does not sound like a glorious job to have, the men and women who perform maintenance functions have very important positions. Without properly maintained equipment, the Army will be running on less than 4 gears.

In today’s post, we are going to examine Army Maintenance Levels and what you should know. We will look at the past, and plans for the future in Army Maintenance. After all, there is new arms and equipment being developed, and Army Maintenance must keep pace with new developments.

Army Maintenance Level History

Since World War II, the current Army Maintenance Level system has been used. There are 4 Army Maintenance Levels. They are:

  1. Unit Level: In this level, the repair is performed and returned immediately to the user.

  2. Direct Support: At this level, the majority of repair is returned to the user, but a small percentage is returned to supply.

  3. General Support: This level of maintenance primarily repairs and returns to supply, with a small percentage going to the user.

  4. Depot: At this level, the repair is made and the item returned to supply.

The idea with the 4 level Army maintenance system is to have the simple maintenance tasks completed at the lowest level, and if tools or knowledge is an issue, the item is sent to the next higher level. This system has worked well through the years, but not to Army expectations. There are several factors that have been studied in the 4 level system that seem to be problems.

  • To perform with this system, expensive and time consuming evacuation systems must be used to send the item to the location for repair.

  • High overheads at each level.

  • A need for more maintenance support at all levels.

When these factors are closely looked at, experts have deemed this system needs to be changed to better reflect Army standards. There has to be a way to not only cut costs, but to also create a more efficient Army Maintenance Level system.

When a person looks closely at the 4 level system, it is evident there is redundancy.

Army Maintenance Level Future

Changes take time, but the Army is instituting a 2 level Army Maintenance Level system. Essentially, when you look at the 4 level system, levels 1 & 2 will combine into 1, and levels 3 & 4 will combine. They will be:

  1. Field Maintenance

  2. Sustainment Maintenance

Field Maintenance will essentially be the crew and unit level maintenance tasks. When we look closely at the primary responsibility of field maintenance, the key word is replace. Instead of attempting to repair items, replacing those items will be their primary directive. If there is a problem with an engine, they will replace the engine instead of attempting to repair it. This system will cut down on the amount of tools and the usage of them.

Sustainment Maintenance will perform their tasks at large operational centers. They will have the availibility of all needed tools. The key word with Sustainment Maintenance is repair. The engine that Field Maintenance replaced will be sent to Sustainment Maintenance, and they will set in to repairing that engine so it can be used as a replacement.

The benefits of a 2 level maintenance system are numerous. Studies have shown that equipment readiness times will increase greatly. Overhead costs of tools, storage of equipment, training and manpower will also be reduced.

Just consider these facts I found at

  • It took 47 steps in updating records and forms in the 4 level system. That will be cut to 10 steps in the 2 level system.

  • It took 5 people to validate work orders were correct in the 4 level system. It will only take 2 people in the 2 level system.

  • In evacuation, the process went through 10 people in the 4 level system. That will cut down to 4 people.

The advantages are numerous with a 2 level maintenance system. This article by Major General Mitchell Stevenson explains why even better than I can.

Final Thoughts

While change can be difficult, I believe this is a good change for the Army. What do you think? For those of you who work, or have worked in Army maintenance…please tell us your opinions. You can post them below. Also, if you have any questions that I may be able to help you with, you can post them below too.

Do not forget to study your Commander’s Maintenance Handbook.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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