News: Battalion mechanics running efficient shop
By Sgt. Mitch Armbruster
Q-WEST BASE COMPLEX, Iraq - Maintenance problems cause an inconvenience to operators and units that need the vehicles for missions. More importantly, maintenance is time consuming and challenging for the mechanics doing the work.
Soldiers with the 71st Corps Support Battalion (CSB) Maintenance Shop understand well-maintained vehicles are a priority in Iraq and work hard to ensure their shop runs efficiently on the Q-West Base Complex.
"We try for a quick turnaround," said Sgt. Andre Knight, the 71st CSB shop foreman.
The maintenance crew has parts on site in a CONEX they have dubbed the "Auto Zone."
Spc. Ryan Craddock, an automated logistics specialist, went through the parts when they first arrived.
"It was a mess," Craddock said. "I had to clear it all out and turn it back in."
Craddock turned in more than 100 parts the crew didn't need to keep accurate numbers and have the right parts on hand.
Knight said the mission was arduous when they first arrived. The parts were scattered throughout the CONEX and many of the vehicles needed maintenance.
"Twenty humvees had to get new tires when we got here," said Knight.
The small crew's workload increased as they took on a fleet twice the size, but they were ready for the challenge.
The maintenance shop did a 100 percent total inspection on every vehicle, took the time to note every fault, and began to work through each vehicle's deficiencies. They ordered every part on the list and asked other units for help in getting the parts they needed to start their projects.
"We used our resources on post to get things done," explained Knight.
The 71st maintenance crew got all of the vehicles through the maintenance shop and began working on them again to get each vehicle serviced.
Ninety percent of the trucks are repaired and operational.
"We've turned things around," Knight said.
By tracking all of the deadlines, the shop found they were able to work more efficiently. They prioritize the work and try to keep their work areas clear of projects so those Soldiers with maintenance issues can get the work done on the spot.
"Some things you have to troubleshoot," said Spc. Isaac Davila, a mechanic working for the 71st CSB.
Being a mechanic means putting in long hours, but the 71st maintenance team takes pride in knowing they can fix their vehicles. Davila said it is rewarding to be able to fix something and give it back to the Soldiers so they can get where they need to go.
Craddock works with the crew because he understands the need to get the vehicles done as quickly as possible.
"I like everything I do," Craddock said. "I like mechanic work and I help out where I can."
Knight said the crew works well together and they are happy regardless of the long hours they put in.
"We have busy days," Knight said. "But it's what I like doing as long as I'm out there working."
The 71st maintenance crew keeps the battalion's vehicles running and Knight is confident they can keep up the work pace.
"We are going to leave the next unit with nothing to do," said Knight.