by LTC Nathan K. Slate, CMTC
During the recent peace enforcement training conducted at the CMTC, in preparation for the deployment to Bosnia, direct support field artillery (FA) battalions were presented a number of new logistical challenges. Among them were:
maintenance support to attached units
increased security requirements
intensified cold weather needs
It was clear from the onset of peace enforcement training that competing requirements had left little time for units to address the subtleties of these unique challenges. This article addresses these challenges and provides techniques for units to use at Home Station.
1. MAINTENANCE SUPPORT TO ATTACHED UNITS.
A. The Problem: The concept of working in large fire bases, although not new to the Army, created logistical lashups that had not been recently considered. Attaching radar and MLRS elements directly to the field artillery battalion created a maintenance requirement that was unrehearsed.
(1) Initially, direct support field artillery battalions did not adequately organize logistics functions to support radar and MLRS attachments. Attached unit maintenance and supply operations were not integrated into the battalion's logistic system.
(2) When field artillery battalions first configured in the training area, the Unit-Level Logistics System (ULLS) computers for attachments were located forward with the attached battery elements instead of being consolidated with the FA battalion's maintenance.
(3) The attachments maintained control of their own maintenance support teams (MSTs). This meant the FA battalion maintenance officer (BMO) could not ensure their support. When the FA battalion BMO was made aware of attachment maintenance needs, the FSB was unable to assist. Parts specific to radar and MLRS are maintained at the main support battalion (MSB).
B. Recommended Techniques:
(1) Field artillery battalions should consolidate the prescribed load list (PLL) clerks from the attached units (with their ULLS computers) in the field trains with the BMO.
(2) Consolidate all MSTs at the unit maintenance collection point (UMCP) with the combat trains. This will enable the BMO to service the attached batteries just like his own.
(3) When the MSB is separated from the FSB by a great distance, an enhanced PLL for MLRS and radar batteries should be pushed forward from the MSB to the FSB. Under these circumstances, required direct support radar and MLRS mechanics should be attached to the FSB. This will allow the FSB to service its new customers.
2. INCREASED SECURITY REQUIREMENTS
A.The Problem: Class IV (construction and barrier materials, lumber, sand bags, barbed wire) posed a significant challenge for FA units. The units did not arrive at the CMTC with an accurate assessment of their Class IV needs for stability operations.
(1) The increased difficulty of force protection in realtively static positions required much more Class IV than had been supposed. Because advanced planning had not been conducted, units simply reacted to requests once they arrived in the training area.
(2) When all the requests were met, mission accomplishment was assumed.
(3) This reactive approach was not timely and did not prioritize resources.
(1) Be aware of and plan for the huge Class IV requirement that comes with the peace enforcement mission.
(2) Units should make the opportunity to conduct training that will help them refine their Class IV requirement. Once the physical requirement is determined, complete a plan for acquiring, delivering, distributing, and maintaining it.
(3) The Class IV plan must be included in the unit's TACSOP.
3. INTENSIFIED COLD WEATHER NEEDS
A. The Problem:
(1) Heater maintenance manifested itself as a shortfall for most visiting units. Ostensibly, most units do not plan for, nor conduct, adequate heater maintenance.
(a) Nearly half of all tracks surveyed had inoperable heaters. Many of these arrived in the training area still broken.
(b) Due to extremely cold weather, those heaters that were operable were used around the clock until they burned out.
(c) A lack of PLL or viable maintenance plan ensured the heaters remained broken.
(2) A lack of tentage and stoves exacerbates the cold weather challenges faced by units. The following factors militate against adequate preparation:
(a) Units complain that they have barely enough operational tentage and stoves.
(b) Units perceive that they have a lack of haul capability.
B. Recommended Techniques:
(a) Ensure you have repaired all heaters before a cold weather deployment.
(b) Order enough heaters to provide floats.
(c) Put a plan in place for the battalion heater mechanic (should be designated) to swap out inoperable heaters.
(d) To ensure timely repair, maintain adequate heater PLL. (In sub-freezing weather, soldiers cannot wait long for heater repair. Money spent on heater maintenance will amortize itself quickly in troop health and morale.)
(2) Tentage and stoves.
(a) Order adequate tentage and stoves to ensure the welfare of all soldiers.
(b) Existing load plans must be validated or adjusted to accommodate tentage and stoves.
(c) Once the tentage and stoves have been acquired and planned for, train and discipline your soldiers to use them.
While these problems seem somewhat trivial, they remain serious concerns when units are not prepared for them. Units, busy with the myriad of significant daily challenges, are apt not to find time for issues such as attached unit maintenance needs, Class IV requirements, heater maintenance, and adequate tentage and stoves. Without a concentrated effort, the subtleties of these issues will never be addressed. Experience has shown that solutions are relatively easy -- it is taking time for the question that poses the greater challenge.
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