By Capt. Allen Hill
610th Brigade Support Battalion
BAGHDAD, Iraq – It is an acronym that spells mission success for the Soldiers of Forward Operating Base Falcon, but ask the doctors and physicians from 610th Brigade Support Battalion and they will tell you that it does not just apply to the maintenance checks on our vehicles and equipment.
Preventative Maintenance Checks and Services, or PMCS, should be executed on everything that we do in our daily lives while deployed. These preventative measures set a standard for us to live by and ensures that we are taking all the necessary steps needed to stay healthy and safe throughout the rotation.
Physical training and the right amount of sleep helps a Soldier maintain his mental awareness.
"Daily physical training is important to keeping the body alert and the mind focused in this environment," said Capt. John King, a physician's assistant from Swartz Creek, Mich., with Company C, 610th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. "A balanced mix of strength training and cardiovascular exercises will help keep the heart healthy and will help avoid fatigue after long hours of work. The right amount of sleep and sleeping when you can will help keep you vigilant and prepared for the next mission."
Maintaining a proper diet and avoiding smoking and smokeless tobacco helps the body function and continue through long hours.
"It's about eating the right foods at the right time," said Dr. (Capt.) Ross Witters, from Omaha, Neb., about the importance of a balanced diet.
"Because we are in such a rush most of the time, it is easy for us to go in and grab all the fried foods," he added. "This type of food can cause the body to slow down as essential nutrients and vitamins are missing. Focusing on a balance of meats, vegetables, and the right amount of dairy products gives the body the energy it needs to burn without building up unnecessary fat."
In regards to smoking, Witter said, "Like any machine, you have to keep the air filters clean. Your lungs are the body's air filter. Smoking clogs up those filters with harmful smoke, toxins, and tar. This leads to the body not functioning as well and eventually breaking down. By maintaining the body with a good diet and avoidance of smoking and other tobacco products, one ensures that the body will continue to function properly, like a well-oiled machine."
Consumption of fluids keeps the body temperature stable and prevents Soldiers from overheating during daily operations. Staying hydrated can be the difference between life and death and is one of the most important measures a Soldier can take with the heat index rising into the 120's.
Dr. (Capt.) Brian Derrick, the brigade surgeon, from Ellensburg, Wash., talked about the importance of hydration.
"Substituting the body with 'Rip-Its,' coffee and soda contributes greatly to dehydration," he said. "In this environment Soldiers need to be consuming copious amounts of water to keep the body fluid. If there is physical activity involved, incorporating an electrolyte replacement drink, in conjunction with water, will help a Soldier avoid those dangers that come with dehydration."
The practice of a having good spiritual habits is what Chap. (Maj.) Greg Thogmartin from Princeton, Mo., said enables Soldiers to focus on doing what is morally and ethically right.
"Prayer, meditation, Bible reading, participation in worship, and the serving and sharing with others is what brings about a balance in our lives and helps us get through those stressful times," the brigade chaplain said. "All of these help build our mental strength, enable us to make the right decisions, and help up to cope with difficult times."
Preserving combat strength goes beyond the daily checks on vehicles and equipment. For a Soldier to function, he must conduct PMCS on himself and look out for the Soldiers around him.