What do you need to know about the Army National Guard Combined Support Maintenance Shop? In today’s post I’m going to teach you everything I know about these maintenance shops. Here are a few quick facts about the Combined Support Maintenance Shops (CSMS):
- In most states there are one to five CSMS Shops. The amount of shops is based upon the size of the state’s military, the number of units, the locations of units, and the number of Field Maintenance Shops.
- The CSMS Shops support the Field Maintenance Shops. One CSMS can support 5 to 50 or more different Field Maintenance Shops.
- Many CSMS Shops employ 100 or more soldiers/mechanics. Most of these mechanics are dual status technicians who often serve in one of the units they support.
- The Shop is normally led by a Senior Warrant Officer or a Lieutenant Colonel.
- Normally the CSMS Shops provide Sustainment level maintenance. They can do major repairs the FMS Shops can’t do because they have more resources and personnel.
- Some of the services they can do include: replace transmissions, rebuilds, painting, engine test results and so much more.
If you are a small unit leader in the Army National Guard, it would be in your best interest to educate yourself about the maintenance flow in your state. At a bare bones minimum, educate yourself about the Field Maintenance Shop and Combined Support Maintenance Shop. After all, you will rely on these two agencies to provide maintenance support to your unit, so it would be in your best interest to know how they operate.
That’s everything I know about Combined Support Maintenance Shops. If you are an expert about the CSMS, or work at one of these shops, please leave a comment and tell us what your shop does. I’m sure our community would really love to know more about it.
Maintenance is a very important aspect of all Army National Guard units. Without proper maintenance, there will be no equipment, or unsafe items at use. Thank you for visiting. Please provide your comments, questions and opinions below…
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10 thoughts on “The ARNG Combined Support Maintenance Shop”
It’s good to hear everyone’s experience with CSMS. I just applied for my state’s CSMS Superintendent Position. So hopefully if I get it, I can assit with the strength and weakness of CSMS to make it more productive and help out CDRs and FMSs.
The CSMS Shop has an important role, but you really have to stay on top of the slackers. Sometimes they will have a piece of equipment for six to 12 months before they get around to fixing it. Being a former Active Duty guy myself, I think it’s much better when units have control of the mechanics rather than having the mechanics control the units.
I agree David. I don’t think all CSMS Shops are slackers, but I do hate the idea of someone other than the commander having control over unit maintenance.
As I do not have experience with the ANG, I can speak from having seen how things operate from an active duty stand point. I see that some of these processes could be especially useful, allowing the units to do more of the 10/20 level maintenance and leaving 30/40 level maintenance for brigade level repair shops. This would be especially useful in allowing units less down time by allowing the local level shops to accomplish the lower levels of work, which would be a good training opportunity for lower enlisted and junior NCO’s to mentor and supervise.
It’s good to hear something about Combined Support Maintenance Shops. I really don’t know much about them at all, so it’s worthwhile to learn a bit more. As you say, the maintenance flow is important in supporting any unit, so any small unit leader should educate himself on the subject.
I think every ARNG small unit leader should educate themselves about the Combined Support Maintenance Shops. They should visit the shop, meet the Shop Chief and learn what they can do. This would benefit anyone from the rank of Sergeant to Captain.
The only drawback I’ve found (which certainly isn’t the fault of the CSMS or FMS–Lord knows we need them) is that because pretty much any substantial maintenance issue is handled by these shops, the mechanics who drill two days a month get very little opportunity to practice their skills. For example, a vehicle that broke down during Annual Training was rarely repaired in the field if anything major was needed; it was shipped back to the FMS or CSMS after AT ended. This lack was painfully apparent during our first deployment, when the intensive maintenance requirements (we were a mechanized brigade at the time, so that meant lots of tanks, Bradleys, and M113s) became a crushing burden. It was the guys who worked full time in these shops and were also unit members who carried the maintenance staffs along until they had a chance to get back into practice. Again, this isn’t the fault of the CSMS system or of the mechanics themselves; it’s just a consequence of how the National Guard system works given its time constraints.
You make a great point, Daniel. It’s hard to stay technically proficient in a job if you only get to do it two days a month. Most CSMS and FMS Shops can run circles around the unit mechanics, because of the experience they have. That’s why the 1SG and Company Commander need to do whatever they can do to get their mechanics more “real world” experience. They need to send their Soldiers to schools, get them experience with the other Army mechanics, and make sure they do plenty of training during Annual Training and drill weekend.
These shops are not to be underestimated by any means. The Field Maintenance Shops and Combined Service Maintenance shops have an important role in helping units maintain a high level of operational readiness. I personally didn’t realize there were 1 to 5 Field Maintenance Shops in every state!
Thanks for visiting, Michelle.
Yes, the CSMS and FMS Shops have a very critical role for most ARNG units. I still believe the units should take pride in their own maintenance programs and not rely on these outside organizations exclusively. Whenever you “hand over” your maintenance program/responsibilities to someone else, you will be disappointed. No one cares about the Commander’s equipment as much as the commander does.