In the Army National Guard, most units rely on their Field Maintenance Shop to help them perform their unit maintenance. Of course, the units perform their own PMCS and maintenance during drill weekends. If the unit has mechanics assigned to their unit (most do), those maintenance personnel fix the vehicles during drill weekend. Anything that doesn’t get done (or can’t be fixed) gets evacuated to the Field Maintenance Shop.
In case you aren’t familiar with what the FMS Shop does, here is some additional information about it.
- The FMS Shop is normally led by a senior E-7, E-8 or Warrant Officer who is referred to as the Shop Chief
- Most shops have a staff of 10-20 employees
- These shops are the full-time mechanics in the ARNG
- Most FMS Shops typically support 5-20 different units
- The employees at the Field Maintenance Shops are typically dual status technicians
- The employees at the Shops are typically assigned to positions in one of the units the shop supports
- The mission of each shop can vary, depending upon which type of units it supports
- Most shops have a building with 2-5 maintenance bays, loads of tools and some parts
- Most shops can provide all levels of field maintenance and some sustainment level maintenance
- Normally, there are 5-20 FMS Shops that are supported by one CSMS Shop
- At the shop, there is a SAMS-2 and SARRS box to track maintenance and order parts
- In addition to maintenance, some shops can do welding, fabrication and other services
As a small unit leader, it’s very important to understand the role of the FMS Shop. You must know the capabilities, services available and skill-set of your local FMS Shop. Based upon my six years experience in the ARNG, I would like to share a few tips with you to help you do this effectively.
# 1: You are still responsible for your unit’s maintenance. Ultimately, commanders are still responsible for their own unit maintenance. That means you need your own unit maintenance program, you must conduct PMCS each month and you must utilize your own mechanics first. The FMS Shop is there to assist you, but you are still the first line of maintenance. You cannot expect them to do YOUR job for you.
# 2: I highly recommend you get to know the FMS Shop Chief and personnel. Take them out to lunch once or twice. Pick their brain. Build a strong relationship with them. Find out what they are capable of. Find out how they can help you improve your unit readiness with your equipment. Do whatever you can to build a strong working relationship with them.
# 3: Constantly monitor the status of your equipment at the FMS Shop. Once you give your equipment to shop, stay involved. Constantly check the status of your parts and equipment. Make sure your equipment isn’t just sitting there waiting to be worked on. If your equipment has been in the shop more than 1-2 weeks, give the Shop Chief a call. If you show the Shop Chief that you are actively managing your equipment, I’m quite sure it will become a higher priority for them to work on. Remember, it’s still your equipment. And if you have a problem with the shop, contact your S4 or CSMS Office to get the problem fixed ASAP.
Overall, I’ve found that most Field Maintenance Shops do a good job. In many cases, they are understaffed and overworked. And in some cases, they aren’t very good. In either case, it’s up to you as the small unit leader to be proactive. Do as much of your own maintenance as you can, and stay “on top” of your equipment that is being worked on at the shop.
On a side note, I would love to hear from you. If you are a small unit leader, please share your experiences about your FMS Shop. And if you have ever worked at one of these shops, I would love to hear your thoughts too. Just leave a comment to this post. Also, if you have any questions you can ask them below. Thank you.
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Former Army Major (resigned)
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