21st vehicle repair program turns one

Maj. Mark Wright, Story and photo
21st Theater Support Command

***image1***The 21st Theater Support Command recently marked its first year performing its mission of repairing and replacing battle-damaged and worn-out vehicles from the U.S. Army Europe fleet that have recently been returned from Iraq.

“Reconstitution is our word for it,” said Lt. Col. Alisa Runyan, 21st TSC Supply and Maintenance chief officer. “It means we take a vehicle apart and put it back together, piece by piece, and part by part, to a higher standard than it was originally. We do this so the customer can train with it and prepare to take it back to Iraq or Afghanistan as required.”

The command repairs thousands of vehicles and will repair thousands more, as deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan continue. The vehicle repair program began from the necessity to keep U.S. Army Europe vehicles rolling, in spite of the damage they were receiving in combat operations.

Gen. B.B. Bell, USAREUR commander, directed that the command’s mission is to “reset” the vehicle force and prepare it for further deployments to Afghanistan and return missions downrange.

In its first year, the General Support Repair and Return program took apart more than 2,100 vehicles and put them back together.

To meet the timetables required by deployments, leaders began a pre-assessment of vehicles coming back from Iraq. Senior German mechanics, employed by the command’s General Support Center – Europe, volunteer for the mission in Kuwait where the pre-assessment teams check the equipment and identify which will need GS-level repair.

Thus far, the command has assessed more than 17,450 vehicles and has identified 3,400 repair candidates for the program. That’s about 20 percent of the total deployed USAREUR fleet.

At the repair sites in Europe, the value of the pre-assessment teams can be fully appreciated, said the director of the GSC-E’s work center in Kaiserslautern, Mr. Markus Cappel. The pre-assessments enable the command to plan the workload and to preorder parts so vehicles are repaired quickly.

More than 600 mechanics, about 150 temporary hires, complemented by additional mechanics in the Air Mobility Command repair facilities and contracted companies, work to meet the command’s reconstitution mission.

At the center in Kaiserslautern, mechanics ensure that all GS-level repairs are accomplished within 180 days of reaching the port of debarkation.

“The Army does not have the money or time to build new vehicles to replace every one that’s damaged in Iraq,” said Maj. Gen. Bennie Williams, 21st TSC commander. “What we do is repair the most heavily damaged vehicles as they return to Europe, and that way we can keep the USAREUR fleet battle-ready.”