Assessment Guide for the New Reserve Component Commander
by Sergeant First Class James I. Adams, Jr., ILARNG
you are the new commander of a National Guard or Reserve unit.
As you probably have learned by now, Army National Guard and
Army Reserve unit commanders face challenges different from those
faced by Active component commanders. The Reserve component commander
must plan unit training and maintenance within a limited timeframe.
Maintaining equipment while meeting training and mission requirements
can be particularly challenging. As a Reserve component commander,
you will need to keep your unit’s equipment up and running,
and you will want to improve your “percentage of on-hand
equipment” rating. To do this, you first will need to assess
where you stand.
You will need to start with Department of the Army Pamphlet (DA
Leader’s Unit Maintenance Handbook, and your hand receipt. Meet with your
hand receipt holders and determine the locations of all of the equipment on the
hand receipts. Then conduct an initial inspection. Walk around your equipment
storage areas, and see if your unit equipment in your armory is stored properly.
It would be beneficial to request a Command Maintenance Evaluation Team (COMET)
inspection, review the last COMET inspection results, or use a COMET checklist
to conduct your own inspection. Remember that the unit’s warfighting tools
include not only transportation and combat vehicles but also tents, communications
equipment, and ancillary equipment. While conducting the inspection— The
maintenance management warning factors
the preventive maintenance checks and services (PMCS)
in the equipment technical manuals.
•Check the calibration or inspection dates on the test and diagnostic,
NBC (nuclear, biological, and chemical), and other equipment that requires
•Check the condition of your weapons by inspecting at least 25 percent
of the inventory of each type of weapon.
•Ensure that the arms room has a functioning dehumidifier.
•Walk around the motor pool and look at, touch, and operate the equipment
you have signed for.
•Use PMCS checklists to determine if the equipment is fully mission capable.
Maintenance Management Warning Factors
• Ripped or missing canvas on vehicles and trailers.
• Flat tires on more than one or two
vehicles or trailers.
• More than 10 percent of the equipment inoperative when you try to operate
• Constant increase in your not-mission- capable percentage before annual
training or inspections.
• A lot of rust on the equipment.
• Many improperly stored MTOE (modifi- cation table of organization and
equip- ment) equipment items.
above will prove helpful in analyzing the inspection results.
If you did not find any of the problems listed in the warning factors chart,
congratulations; your unit is ready for mobilization. However, like a high percentage
of commanders, you may find several problems in your motor pool. Once the problems
are identified, you must develop solutions for them.
The diagram on the next page shows a maintenance station training model that
can be used to inspect and repair equipment. The model is designed primarily
to teach section sergeants, platoon sergeants, and platoon leaders how to perform
PMCS of their equipment properly and how to better supervise the troops responsible
for completing the PMCS. The key to the success of this operation is command
supervision and attendance. All parties involved in vehicle assignment, issue,
and maintenance should participate. Leaders familiar with this process can conduct
PMCS with minimal maintenance support (one or two mechanics) and some minor supplies
such as sandpaper, wire brushes, and paint.
The purpose of each station follows.
Station 1: The motor sergeant or prescribed load list
(PLL) clerk checks operators’ licenses
and vehicle operation qualification documents. Maintenance personnel supervise
operator-conducted PMCS. The motor sergeant or PLL clerk dispatches the vehicle
to the operator
Station 2: Operators lube the vehicle, check fluid levels, and make operator-level
repairs. Section sergeants supervise.
Station 3: Mechanics perform –20- and –30-level inspections and replace
parts or repair minor faults. [Vehicle and equipment maintenance is done at three
levels: –10 level is conducted by the operator, –20 level by unit
maintenance personnel, and –30 level by direct support maintenance personnel.]
Station 4: Operators and crew remove rust, spot-paint, and install troop seats
Station 5: Section sergeants inspect for cleanliness, conduct a basic issue item
inventory, and place the name of the assigned driver on the windshield.
Station 6: The commander and motor sergeant review paperwork, determine repairs
needed, and decide priority for vehicle repair. The commander, executive officer,
or platoon leader authorizes the vehicle or equipment to be parked or stored.
If you use the maintenance station training model to help plan PMCS, remember
to start with your key leaders and mid-level personnel. Coordinate the stations—assign
each task to specific personnel. If you do not have –30-level mechanics,
request support from your direct support activity. The PMCS site should be an
open area with cover, such as a maintenance tent, drive-through barn, or building.
Ensure that all needed materials, such as fluids, wire brushes, and paint, are
available. Last but not least, plan and dedicate time for the operation.
Even if problems do not exist now, the maintenance station training model will
help avert future problems. Use it with organizational and direct support technical
inspections to help determine your course of action.
Maintenance Resource Assessment
After deciding on your course of action to correct the deficiencies you found,
you need to determine if your unit personnel can handle the tasks. Begin by assessing
your maintenance section’s capabilities. Conduct a maintenance resource
assessment to calculate your maintenance sustainment posture. To do this, subtract
anyone who will not be working on the equipment, such as the PLL clerk and the
motor sergeant, from the number of authorized maintenance personnel. Then subtract
those who are not military occupational specialty (MOS) qualified and those who
will not be at the drill because of school or other factors. Divide the results
by the number authorized. This gives you the “wrench-turner factor.”
For example, assume that you are authorized a 13-person maintenance section comprising
an E–7 motor sergeant, an E–6 lead mechanic, an E–4 automated
systems clerk, 3 E–5 mechanics, 4 E–4 mechanics, an E–3 mechanic,
an E–4 communications repairer, and an E–4 generator repairer. If
they are all MOS qualified and will all be at every drill, the personnel rate
for the formula is: 13 – 0 = 13, and 13 ÷ 13 = 1 (or 100 percent).
So you would count on 100 percent of your mechanics to be available to conduct
maintenance. But that is not realistic, so you need to estimate how many personnel
actually will be available.
Assume that the motor sergeant and the PLL clerk’s duties will preclude
their conducting any maintenance. Remove them from the equation, and you have
an effective maintenance strength of 11. Look at the other personnel and determine
how much time you can expect them to be at drill and working on equipment. Subtract
time for mandatory training, such as the Primary Leadership Development Course,
and time that they will spend on other tasks, such as completing administrative
duties. Soldiers who have not completed basic or advanced training cannot be
expected to perform at 100 percent, and you know they will be gone for training
part of the year. For instance, if you know one of your soldiers will be gone
for training for 12 of the 24 drill days, you would count him as only 0.50 person.
If he were not yet MOS qualified, you might count him as half of that, or 0.25
So, let’s recap. After removing the PLL clerk and the motor sergeant, your
maintenance strength is 11 [13 – 2 = 11]. You have two soldiers who will
be attending basic or advanced training for 12 of the drill days, so you count
them as 0.25 each, for a total of 0.50 [11 – (2 – 0.50) = 9.50].
You count the lead mechanic as 0.5 because he has other duties. That leaves a
total of 9 personnel who will be working on vehicles during drills [9.50 – 0.50
= 9]. Divide that by 13—the number of authorized maintenance personnel—and
you get a wrench-turner factor of 0.69 [9 ÷ 13 = 0.69].
The upcoming year has 24 drill periods. In maintenance, we usually assume that
each full drill day is 8 hours. Therefore, each mechanic should be available
for 192 hours. However, 25 percent of the training schedule is set aside for
conducting PMCS on the unit’s equipment, and required training is scheduled
for 2 days. That leaves 128 hours of drill time per mechanic [(192 x .75) – 16
= 128], or 1,664 total hours [128 x 13 = 1,664]. Now multiply the wrench-turner
factor by the 1,664 hours to calculate the effective total maintenance time available
to your maintenance section [0.69 x 1,664 = 1,148]. Repairs, especially those
that affect your readiness or annual training (AT) mission, will consume an average
of 35 percent of the time, leaving 65 percent of the time available for maintenance
tasks. Thus, 746 hours are available for servicing rolling stock and ancillary
equipment [0.65 x 1,148 = 746]. This may seem like it is not enough time to complete
annual and biennial services, but you now have a realistic estimate of the time
you have available for maintenance.
The AT period should not be included when conducting the maintenance resource
assessment because the unit could be conducting overseas deployment for training,
a garrison AT period, home station training, or a rotation at the National Maintenance
Training Center at Camp Dodge, Iowa. If “summer camp” allows time
for additional maintenance, use the time wisely and cherish it. You will seldom
get the opportunity to conduct maintenance during summer camp
You should require vehicle and equipment operators to read PS Magazine and ensure
that they assist with the organizational services for the equipment that they
operate, as required by DA Pam 738–750, Functional Users Manual for The
Army Maintenance Management System (TAMMS). This procedure ensures that enough
skilled maintenance personnel are available to meet maintenance needs.
Developing the Skills of Maintenance Personnel
Several options are available to help develop the skills of the maintenance personnel
in your unit. You can request support from a maintenance assistance and instruction
team. You can ask your higher headquarters or supporting units for help, such
as sending –30-level mechanics to assist with your station training, onsite
repairs, or new equipment fielding. If maintenance is backlogged enough to affect
readiness, request assistance by job order and be ready to assist as much as
You or your maintenance officer should attend the Battalion Maintenance Officer
Course. Whether he is the executive officer or platoon leader, the person who
reports to you on the maintenance status, rates your motor sergeant, or controls
your unit maintenance program must be able to read and understand maintenance
regulations and DA Pam 738–750.
The challenge is yours. Overseeing your unit’s maintenance program is as
important as all other aspects of command. Remember that if the best tactically
trained troops in the world cannot get to where they need to be, do not have
properly functioning equipment, or cannot be supported organically, the purpose
of all of their training is defeated.
Sergeant First Class James I. Adams, Jr., ILARNG, is the base maintenance
team leader for the 3637th Maintenance Company (Direct Support) (-), Illinois
National Guard, in Springfield, Illinois. He has associate’s degrees in
liberal arts and human resources and is a graduate of the Basic and Advanced
Ordnance Noncommissioned Officer Courses.