521st Maintenance Battalion (DS/GS)
The mission of the 521st Maintenance Battalion (DS/GS) is to provide command and control of assigned and attached maintenance direct support (DS) or general support (GS) units.
The U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC) has worked very hard to establish a training program for its ordnance military occupational specialties (MOS's). All maintenance companies in the Army Reserve rotate for training to Camp Dodge, Iowa, and the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, California. Sometimes they gain training through overseas missions or training at their home stations. This cycle does not include the many diverse maintenance support missions the units are involved in throughout the year. For example, maintenance companies regularly participate in exercises such as POLEX (a petroleum transportation field exercise) and Roving Sands (a joint air defense training exercise) and rotate to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana.
Two of the five maintenance battalions in the Army Reserve, the 521st Maintenance Battalion at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, and the 387th Maintenance Battalion at Fort Hunter Liggett, California, are implementing a maintenance training program called Operation Platinum Wrench (OPW). OPW is a 2- to 4-month program that integrates the operations of direct support (DS), general support (GS), and service (also known as collection and classification) companies under a unified training program. The concept, which was introduced in 1997 at Fort McCoy, uses USAR soldiers and facilities to support USAR installations and to rebuild and overhaul USAR equipment, thus saving limited USAR funds.
During training year 1999, 11 maintenance companies participated in OPW. The 521st Maintenance Battalion had eight companies assigned to it during this year. In addition, the 521st integrated a German Army Reserve unit into OPW. The 521st Maintenance Battalion hosted units assigned to the 88th, 90th, 94th, and 99th Regional Support Commands at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, in 1999.
Operation Platinum Wrench (OPW) continued to offer hands-on training to U.S. Army reservists at Fort McCoy during the summer of 2001, while expanding the number of training skills available to soldiers. The 521st Maintenance Battalion of Milwaukee provided command and control at Fort McCoy during the peak OPW training time from May 8-Aug. 18, 2001.
The soldiers are learning how to incorporate modifications into the program. For example, the M-915A4 Glider Kits delivered to the 890th Transportation Company of Green Bay, Wis., didn't have engine block heaters. Drivers quickly realized the heaters were a necessity with the Wisconsin winters for vehicles that are parked outside, so those were added to the product, as necessary. A new aspect of the program is the opportunity for nearby or interested units to perform weekend work in the OPW mission. Many of the maintenance units don't have big maintenance bays, which makes it easier to work on equipment at Fort McCoy.
The soldiers also were able to do work at the Equipment Concentration Site-67 on generators, at the Regional Training Site-Maintenance on winterizing equipment and at the Regional Training Site-Medical on repairing air-conditioning units.
The distinctive unit insignia was approved on 2 October 1970, consisting of a vertical light blue sword, hilt and pommel gold between two gold wrenches crossed saltirewise, all encircled by a continuous crimson scroll, the upper area surmounted by the point of the sword and the lower area inscribed "SUPPORT WITH DISTINCTION" in gold letters. Crimson and light blue are the colors used for Maintenance units. The sword is indicative of the complete arsenal of military weapons and components and together with the wrenches alludes to the basic mission.
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