Maintenance, Maintenance, Maintenance!

I remember the first few days in my Battery, I scuttled around like an awkward penguin following Soldiers to their equipment. Mustering up my best smile, I asked them to show me around the motor pool.

A week into the unit, I learned about “PMCS” and maintenance. I watched Soldiers go through the “reader-doer” method where one Soldier reads from a list of checks on equipment and the other Soldier performs the check. I even greased a fifth wheel! I felt accomplished. Patting myself on the back, I thought, “This leadership thing is easy! I just follow my Soldiers around and ask them questions.” In the famous words of Donald Trump, “Wrooong.”

Two months into my time in Korea, and Table VIII certification week finally arrived. Although I proved myself tactically competent, technically, I could still use a lot of work. For those of you who are not artillery, Table certifications are the validation of your equipment and crews’ ability to fight in a war time situation.

I confidently carried something called “dispatches” into the commander’s office for signatures.

“Hi, Sir. Here are my…” I struggled to remember the name.

The commander glanced down at the first page of the dispatch.

“2LT Velez. What’s wrong with your dispatch paperwork?”

Oh, that’s what they’re called. Cadet Velez’s essence transferred into my body as I peered at my dispatches like a deer in the headlights. “Uhh…Sir, I’m not sure.”

My commander silently smirked. “Sit with Chief, here. He’ll explain everything.”

And so, my training began…

The only way to learn about your equipment is to go out there and do some maintenance, and know about the paperwork associated with it! You sign for your equipment, why not learn how to take care of it?

Generally, maintenance occurs every Monday throughout the day. In the afternoon, units will have a conventional maintenance focus such as: windshield wiper fluid check, generator checks, etc. Each day of the week, Soldiers will perform Preventative Maintenance Checks and Services (PMCS) prior to training.

PMCS is considered as a -10 and -20 task. -10 tasks are operator level, while -20 tasks are at the company level. If operators cannot fix a fault, their next step will be to utilize a mechanic for a -20 task. Soldiers are responsible for the services, inspection, detection, and correction of minor faults before these faults cause damage, failure, or injury.

Soldiers will go through the “reader-doer” method. Every vehicle will contain its own Technical Manual, or “TM” with a PMCS check-list. In order for them to perform a proper -10/-20 level PMCS, they must meet the following standards:

  1. The equipment is Fully Mission Capable (FMC) -Fully Mission Capable (FMC)

-On-hand parts installed/maintenance complete

-Required parts are on valid requisition

-Higher maintenance on valid work request

  1. All services performed
  2. All urgent Modification Work Orders (MWOs) are applied
  3. All Basic Issue Items (BII)/Components of End Items (COEI)

on-hand and serviceable or on a valid requisition (slide-10)

THE BIG BAD 5988-E

You can’t avoid it! You will look at a 5988-E! The more familiar you get with this elusive little document, the more you’ll learn about your million-dollar equipment.

I would say the 5988-E is the most essential part of your dispatch. Keep in mind that each unit has an SOP outlining what the dispatch contains. A basic dispatch will include a cover page with the operator and first line supervisor name and signature, the dispatcher’s signature (the PLL clerk who works for maintenance), the 5988-E (or 2404 for equipment that is not in GCSS Army) line dated, or annotated with faults. Each day, operators will close out the prior day’s 5988 with a line date. Dispatches will be completed and inside the vehicle prior to any movement off site.

What’s that green stuff coming from my truck?

Three classes of leaks can come from your vehicles. Stains and discolorations in your equipment can also denote a leak. Keep these in mind when you spot check your equipment because some leaks can deadline (X) your vehicles.

Class I. Leakage indicated by wetness or discoloration, but not great

enough to form drops.

Class II. Leakage great enough to form drops, but not enough to cause drops to drip from item being checked/inspected.

 Class III. Leakage great enough to form drops that fall from the item

being checked/inspected.

Some tips:

  1. Start with the basics. What’s your BII? What are the basic checks for vehicles? At least follow your Soldiers through PMCS on Mondays and close out on Fridays. Platoon leaders should walk through their equipment with the Platoon sergeant and perform spot checks on before closing out shop for the weekend.
  2. Check the air pressure tank for your breaks, especially in the winter time. Any extra condensation build-up can render your breaks inoperable because the liquid froze the breaking system.
  3. Find out which pieces of equipment can cause your unit to become non-mission capable. If your whole mission is air and missile defense, for instance, and the equipment that tracks missiles becomes inoperable, your battery is NMC.
  4. It’s not always broken! Soldiers love to call equipment “broken.” Go out with your platoon sergeant or squad leader and inspect the equipment yourself. Ask questions and get the operators’ gears moving. They can likely fix whatever was “broken.”

Final Thoughts?

I think not! Coming soon are more maintenance focused posts. There’s just so much! This post, however, serves as a basic introduction to maintenance.

Big thank you to the Central Army Agency and the Ordinance Basic Leader Course for providing a wonderful power point PMCS refresher course, and the 5988-E slides. I told you the Army has a lot of great resources!