Army fixes trucks, saves money

Pvt. John Hudspeth
21st Theater Support Command

***image1***It would be difficult to accomplish tasks downrange without the immediate ability to move equipment and troops to where they need to be.
Convoys, a group of vehicles, provide an environment of protection for U.S. equipment and troops as well as the means to accomplish logistical missions.
The Maintenance Activity Kaiserslautern, 21st Theater Support Command, keeps these Operation Iraqi Freedom trucks rolling and at the same time saves the government some money. Whether vehicles have bullet holes or have just accumulated many miles on bad roads, the maintenance people repair and refurbish these vehicles so they can continue the mission.
They also install 50-caliber gun mounts on five-ton trucks and repair vehicles that were damaged, or shot up while down range, said Anthony Smith, deputy, MAK. These are vehicles that the government can’t really afford to replace with brand new trucks.
“It’s very hard to put an exact figure on how much money is saved by repairing these trucks instead of buying new ones,” said Mr. Smith. “Baseline, we’ve performed about $50 million worth of repairs on these vehicles, and I’d say we’ve saved the government, at the very least, that much in cost-avoidance.”
Five-ton trucks delivered to the MAK are first repaired and brought up to operational strength for redeployment. They then are fitted with gun mounts for the 50-caliber machine gun.
“This initial, mandatory repair is the most difficult aspect of the process and with the addition of the gun mount can often take anywhere from 80 to 120 hours of repair and installation time,” said Mr. Smith. “In an ideal environment where all that needs to happen is the mounting of the gun ring itself, the process would take eight to 12 hours, but that is in a perfect setting, which is almost never the case.”
Many of the vehicles are in various stages of repair due to cannibalism in theater, where fixable trucks with parts from other trucks that cannot be immediately repaired on site, he said.
Other vehicles might have been pierced by ammunition, or have just been driven so hard that they need repair and are unfit for service.
“These vehicles have been through the war, and repair ranges from one end of the spectrum to the other,” said Mr. Smith. “As we look at the trucks, brought here, we can tell the vehicles are very well used.”
In addition to the regular wear and tear these combat veteran vehicles have endured, these trucks are sometimes 10, 20, even 30 years old, said Mr. Smith. This means repairs the truck could need might not be as obvious as say a bullet-hole through the engine block and trucks this old sometimes need special attention paid to the little aspects of normal repair.
The MAK will complete the installation of gun mounts and repair of vehicles for more than 65 trucks in this current project. The MAK’s next project will accomplish the same maintenance and installation for more than 68 vehicles headed downrange to OIF.