It sounds simple. I need two M35 series 2H-ton
trucks to support an upcoming 63B (light wheel vehicle mechanic)
Basic Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) Course. In a modification
table of organization and equipment (MTOE) unit or on an active-duty
post, where the NCO academies are supported internally by units
on the installation, getting the trucks would be a simple task.
However, for an Army National Guard (ARNG) Regional Training
Site-Maintenance (RTSM), it is an exercise in logistics.
Reserve Component Training
For training purposes, the Army Training and Doctrine Command has divided the
world into seven regions. Each region has a TASS (The Army School System) battalion
headquarters that coordinates the content of courses to be taught at the RTSMs
in its region. The Army Combined Arms Support Command, the Army Training and
Doctrine Command, the proponent school (such as the Ordnance School), and the
RTSM provide input to the course content.
The programs of instruction (POIs) for RTSM courses are developed by proponent
agencies composed of both military and civilian personnel. Writers are not necessarily
service members; they are subject matter experts, military or civilian, who know
what needs to be included in the courses. When new technology and equipment become
available to the Army, training on them is written into the POIs. The RTSMs then
have a period of time, normally a year, to obtain the equipment re-quired to
complete the POIs.
|RTSM students replace
the engine of a M4K 4,000-pound rough terrain forklift
on which they are training.
MTOE and TDA Unit Priorities
Because the RTSM is a table of distribution and allowances (TDA) organization,
it often does not have access to the vehicles called for in a POI. An ARNG
RTSM has a minimal number of tactical vehicles, which are training aids and
are not fully mission capable. The RTSM may lack many of the items required
by its POIs and may have to rely on the state logistics system and ARNG units
within the state to provide items it needs. Since the needs of deployable units
come before those of training activities, obtaining these items can be difficult.
New equipment is fielded to MTOE units using a basis-of-issue plan and a fielding
plan that are based on projected needs. MTOE units are deployable and have real-world
missions for which they need to train. RTSMs are TDA units that normally are
assigned to state headquarters in the ARNG and to major U.S. Army Reserve commands
(MUSARCs). The real-world mission of these local and area headquarters or operational
units is to support
the readiness levels of the MTOE units.
When new equipment is of a tactical nature, the MTOE units need it to maintain
their readiness and deployability. During peacetime, some equipment can be substituted.
For example, a unit may be authorized five 5-ton M923-series vehicles. The state
headquarters or MUSARC can substitute two 2H-ton M35-series vehicles for one
5-ton. In the event of mobilization, the 2H-ton vehicles are replaced by the
authorized 5-ton vehicles and the unit then moves to the mobilization station
and on to the theater. This does not work for RTSMs since TDA units generally
are not allowed tactical equipment. Most TDA units use commercial vehicles from
the General Services Administration or equipment hand-receipted from MTOE units.
Specific tasks in the POI call for specific pieces of equipment. In some cases,
different pieces of equipment have identical systems. For example, the engine,
transmission, and other systems of a heavy, expanded-mobility, tactical truck
(HEMMT) are basically the same whether it is a wrecker or fuel truck. However,
some similar items, such as M109A5 and M109A6 howitzers, have significant differences,
and sometimes new equipment is completely different from old equipment.
replace the barrel of a M198 155-millimeter howitzer
as a part of their training.
Many people think that when an RTSM does not
have the equipment it needs for training, the solution is to
borrow the equipment from a unit within the state. But not
all states have all of the required equipment. For example,
an M109A6 Paladin howitzer may be required to train on a task,
but the state may not have any M109A6 artillery units. It is
possible, but difficult, to obtain equipment from other states
within the TASS region.
If the needed equipment is not available, the RTSM may request a waiver of the
task that requires the equipment; however, this leaves soldiers untrained on
the task. In some cases, a task cannot be waived, so the RTSM cannot teach that
When a unit in the state has the equipment, borrowing it is difficult because
the owning unit needs to train on the equipment to remain deployable. Maintenance
training typically is conducted on equipment readiness code (ERC) A or ERC P
(pacing items), and units do not like to loan out their prime and necessary equipment.
[ERC A items are primary weapon systems and equipment essential to a unit’s
mission. ERC P items are major weapon systems or equipment that are so important
that they are continuously monitored and managed.] In addition, Army Regulation
750–1, Army Materiel Maintenance Policy, states that a condition code of “F” (unserviceable
[reparable]) or less will be assigned to equipment that is used for training
and is disassembled and reassembled during the training. A cavalry squadron commander
who is approached by the RTSM about borrowing an M1 Abrams tank for maintenance
training knows that the M1 will become condition code F as soon as it is used
as a training aid. At $1.9 million per tank, loaning the tank to the RTSM would
not be a fiscally sound decision.
An RTSM might consider having the needed items added to its TDA to ensure that
the equipment is available for training use. However, this is not a good solution
because the process of having an item added to a TDA is long and MTOE units have
priority for equipment authorization. TDAs are published annually. Change requests,
which include a battery of questions about usage and justification for the equipment,
must be made within the TDA change window and forwarded through the State Operations
and Intelligence Office, with coordination with the U.S. Property and Fiscal
Office (USPFO) and the state G–4. If all of these offices agree, the documents
are forwarded through the Force Integration Office to the National Guard Bureau
and then to the individual program managers. Once the program manager gets the
request, he considers the overall need of the service to determine if the equipment
will be added to the RTSM’s TDA. This process can take as long as 2 years,
and if the equipment is a high priority item, such as the M1 series tank, the
TDA unit will not receive the equipment. Even equipment that is being “recycled” in
the system will not go to the RTSM if MTOE units need the items. The result is
that RTSMs do not get the equipment they need to train mechanics fully. Equipment
is not added to the RTSM TDAs, and MTOE unit commanders are not going to give
up equipment and lower their readiness.
A simple solution to this Reserve component training dilemma is to include RTSMs
on basis-of-issue and fielding plans. When procuring new equipment, an additional
piece of the equipment or a piece of equipment that was used as test equipment
could be sent to the RTSMs around the Nation that will be responsible for training
mechanics on the equipment’s maintenance.
RTSMs are always looking for ways to solve their equipment problems. Today’s
Army has to operate in a smarter, more streamlined manner. Maintenance training
should take place when items are being fielded so that soldiers will not find
themselves with not-mission-capable equipment because no one is trained to repair
Sergeant First Class David D. Lindeman, Active Guard/Reserve, is a supply sergeant
at Regional Training Site-Maintenance-Iowa. He is a graduate of the Advanced
Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) Course, the Unit Readiness NCO Course, and the
Training NCO Course.