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Special team restores small arms to fighting condition

Feb 15, 2011

By Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jose Marerro

FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Every brigade combat team goes through the same Army Force Generation process. The unit trains, deploys, and then, upon redeployment, undergoes RESET.

Many of the events throughout the equipment Reset window are executed by special repair teams, or SRTs, working in coordination with Army Sustainment Command. One of these SRTs is the Small Arms Readiness Evaluation Team often referred to as SARET. Working with ASC's 406th Army Field Support Brigade, SARET recently assisted in resetting the 2nd Brigade Combat Team "Commandos" of the 10th Mountain Division.

The mission of SARET is to inspect and repair through the field maintenance level all weapons, optics and lasers within the Brigade Combat Team. This represents roughly 28% of all the Brigade Combat Team's equipment requiring Reset.

More than 70 SARET members repaired weapons starting Nov. 29, at the 210th Brigade Support Battalion's maintenance facility. Each day, the team inspected and repaired, as needed, more than 500 weapons. When the SARET completed its mission in mid-December, the team had repaired about 14,000 items (small arms, optics and lasers).

The process SARET uses is the same at each installation. First, each weapon is brought in and logged. Then technicians give each item a thorough inspection, checking for tolerances and broken or worn parts, annotating every repair each item requires.

The weapon then moves on to the repair section, where craftsmen repair it to military specifications and tolerances. Technicians document their work on a DA Form 2404, Equipment Inspection and Maintenance Worksheet, that follows every weapon as it moves through each station.

The technicians can repair or replace every part except the lower receiver, since that has the weapon's serial number and is therefore an accountable item.

The most common repairs are replacing worn upper receivers, cracked butt stocks and cracked hand guards; that is considered normal wear and tear of the weapon.

SARET brings a mobile special repair center with specialized tools and machine equipment for certain specialized tasks, such as removing the cam from a .50-caliber machine gun.

Similar to any military repair activity, team members refer to service manuals, which provide a quick reference for weapon schematics and national stock numbers for parts. After all the repairs are done, the weapons are given a trigger-pull inspection, which checks for tolerances. A final inspector verifies that all the work documented on the 2404 was performed.

SARET does not repair all weapons. Those that are too damaged or worn are coded-out or deemed non-repairable at this station. Those weapons are returned to the unit to be disposed of through property book channels and replacements ordered.

The process for optics and lasers is very similar, except the unserviceable ones and the phased-out ones are automatically exchanged one-for-one right on the spot.

The one check that SARET does not execute is test firing the weapons after repair. That is a unit's responsibility after the weapons have been returned to them.

The SARET is made up of a mix of Army civilians from Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., and Anniston Army Depot, Ala., and contractor personnel. About three-quarters of its employees are veterans with experience in small arms repair in the Army or Marine Corps.

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