Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Forward Support Fixing Equipment Where It Breaks

By 2nd Lt. Liz Lopez

Regular maintenance prevents equipment from breaking. In combat, a Soldier cannot afford for his equipment to break. It keeps him safe. It gives him advantages his enemies do not have.
In Iraq, constant exposure to dust and heat alone will cause damage to Soldier’s mission essential equipment. However, factor in the battering equipment takes from daily use, and Soldiers have the potential for a lot of broken stuff.
Nevertheless, when things break, combat is not always the easiest place to get it fixed. And, sending it to the rear for repairs is not always a feasible option.
For this reason, the Soldiers in the Communications and Electronics, or C&E, Section of Company B, 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), routinely pack up their shop and take to the roads with the mission of providing these war fighters with the maintenance assets they need, where they are.
“The C&E maintenance team provides forward support, fixing equipment where it breaks,” said Chief Warrant Officer Paul Williamson, a native of Nippinnawassee, Calif., the Communications and Electionics Technician.
On September 14, the team was finishing up a week on the road conducting biannual services on night vision devices belonging to the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment.
Their goal for the week was to ensure 90 percent of the maneuver battalion’s night vision devices were fully mission capable. Their efforts would ease the burden on Company F, the Forward Support Company, whose three specialists are responsible for the maintenance and repair of all the battalion’s electronic equipment scattered to four patrol bases and several strong points.
Night vision devices require biannual services to check for functionality and clear the device of accumulated moisture. Although built to be durable, a year of hard and continuous use can render some of the equipment combat ineffective if no preventive measures are taken.
So, the mobile maintenance team set out in search of those night vision devices whose functionality they had not yet inspected, spending two days at each Patrol Base Dragon, Patrol Base Shanghai, and Patrol Base Inchon, where the majority of the maneuver battalion’s Soldiers live.
The Company B Soldiers did not travel alone. They brought their counterparts in Company F with them.
By including Company F personnel, two purposes were served. The more junior Soldiers in the Forward Support Company gained from the mobile maintenance team’s knowledge and shop experience. And, the mission was made more efficient with an extra set of hands.
“You always get a payoff in the end,” said Williamson.

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