Artillery Mechanics adapt to MRAP

Story by Staff Sgt. Thomas Greene
Photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Lee Klika
278th Armored Cavalry Regiment Public Affairs
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE MAREZ, Iraq — Soldiers with the maintenance sections of Regimental Fires Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) keep the wheels of the squadron’s Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles rolling through the gates here.

The job of keeping the vehicles in operation can be tedious, nasty and labor-intensive. Because of that intensity, RFS has had to find a way to maximize their mechanics’ efforts.

Warrant Officer Anthony Lay, motor officer with RFS and a Dresden, Tenn., native, said the squadron has 84 MRAPs, of differing size and manufacturer, to keep operational.

“The organization we replaced here at (COB) Marez had 45 mechanics plus 18 assisting from the 631st Maintenance Support Team, Florida Army National Guard,” Lay said. “The 631st deployment ended in May of this year.”

“We have only 22 mechanics among our batteries,” he said. “We knew we had to change our (manning) structure, and quickly.”

Lay said the solution was to consolidate each individual battery’s mechanics in one group to best utilize the resources at hand.

Sgt. 1st Class Royce Rollins, maintenance noncommissioned officer with G Troop, RFS and a Fayetteville, Tenn., native, said the weight of MRAP parts requires two to three people to handle them, when only one mechanic was required to complete the job on a similar part on a humvee.

“By consolidating, we are able to put more (mechanics) on a single vehicle to get it back up,” said Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Rinkes, motor sergeant with A Battery, RFS and a Decherd, Tenn., native.

When walking through their shops, one can see engines as small as that of the Polaris all-terrain vehicle and as large as the power pack of an MRAP. Rollins said these Tennessee Army National Guard mechanics can fix them all.

The mechanics who keep these MRAPs functioning said they aren’t doing their job expecting to win medals or recognition, but they do realize the seriousness of their work.

“Without our maintenance sections, the MRAP is just a regimental hood ornament. We can’t go without them,” said Capt. Kevin Levesque, executive officer with G Troop, RFS and a Nashville, Tenn., native.

Spc. Thomas McCauley, a mechanic with A Battery, RFS said he recognized that if he isn’t doing his job, one of his friends going outside the wire could get hurt.

Most of the mechanics with RFS, 278th ACR have spent their careers working on artillery equipment but they picked right up on servicing the MRAP, Rinkes said.

“My people understand principles and concepts of machinery,” he said. “They are mechanics at heart. If you’re not a mechanic when you get out of school then I can’t make you one over here. Your heart has to be in it.”


news photo
Mechanics with Regimental Fires Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) clean a Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle engine prior to re-installing it at Contingency Operating Base Marez, Iraq.