JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Allied Repairs, a military support maintenance company, was slated to merge vehicle maintenance and repair operations with KBR, Inc. contractors March 1 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
"Rather than having two separate maintenance companies, we want to combine them together," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 David Marriott, an automotive technician with the 514th Support Maintenance Company, 80th Ordnance Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).
With an increased work force, Allied Repairs' operational productivity will almost double, said Marriott, a St. Petersburg, Fla., native. Soldiers and KBR Inc. contractors have experience and knowledge that, when combined, will make for an overall better maintenance shop, he said.
"When you combine the two together, you have a maintenance facility capable of fixing anything," said Marriott.
Allied Repairs has shops dedicated to the repair of all Army equipment, said Marriot. As the drawdown approaches, the need for maintenance on Heavy Equipment Transporter systems has become a priority to aid units in the condensation of U.S. forces, he said.
The 514th has taken steps, under the guidance of the 13th ESC, to ease the stress of logistical movements for the repositioning of U.S. forces during the drawdown, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael Mackey, an engineer technician with the 514th SMC and an Albany, N.Y., native. With the five-year HET system repair service, tractors and trailers are repaired to operational standard, he said.
The focus of the maintenance is more on the M-1000 HET trailer than the M-1070 HET tractor. The trailers need more service because they undergo heavier usage, said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Eric Burrow, a senior automotive technician with the 514th SMC.
"[The repair service] consists of a complete tear down of all the components of the trailer," said Burrow, a Harrisburg, Pa., native. "We rebuild those components, put them back on the trailer and roll the trailer back out, so it's almost as new as if it came off the manufacturing line."
The Soldiers strip down the axles and gearing box and detach all the major components, said Burrow. The trailers undergo a thorough maintenance process to ensure they are in nearly peak operational condition, he said.
The HET system serves an important role in the movement of military equipment, said Mackey, because it has the most powerful tractor, and a trailer with the heaviest load-bearing capability of any transportation vehicle in the Army system.
The HET system has been used by the Army for almost 20 years with few changes, he said.
Mackey said the 514th SMC is one of the few units in Iraq that conducts a complete breakdown and repair of the M-1000 HET trailers. The HET systems came into Iraq early in the war and rarely leave the country, he said.
The five-year trailer service began roughly a year ago under the 699th Support Maintenance Company and the 514th SMC took it over in late spring of 2009, said Mackey.
"Before this program, these trailers hadn't been touched in 10, 12 years," he said.
Marriott said tractors go through semi-annual, annual and bi-annual maintenance processes. These checks are usually done by the transportation company's own mechanics.
With more than 300 trailers in country, only about 40 have gone through the five-year service in the past year, he said.
Mackey said the 514th SMC gained experience in trailer repair and maintenance through trial and error. Techniques and tools were developed to increase efficiency and overall Soldier safety, he said.
The merger between the two groups could save the Army millions of dollars a year, said Mackey. The Soldiers alone repair roughly 12 trailers a month, but with the civilian contractors, the goal is 16, he said.
The KBR, Inc. contractors will receive on-the-job training as they work on HET systems and components, said Mackey. The vast majority of these civilian contractors have prior mechanic experience, he said.
As the U.S. works to responsibly drawdown troops and equipment, the demand for serviced trailers has increased, said Mackey. The HET system remains a vital transportation asset to U.S. forces in Iraq, he said.