News: Maintainers keep the mission rolling
Story by Staff Sgt. Stephenie Wade
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - Nearly every military mission requires the use of a vehicle at some point. Whether it's the forklift loading cargo directly on an aircraft, the cable-reel truck used to install communication lines across the base or just the pickup truck used to transport supplies, vehicles are a requirement to get jobs done. More than 81 airmen and soldiers assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron, Vehicle Maintenance flight work together daily to maintain almost 900 vehicles on Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.
"Prior to deploying I went to 3 weeks of training to learn how to fix the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles," said Staff Sgt. Andrew Sterrett, ELRS, vehicle maintainer and native of Wamego, Kan.
According to Sterrett, deployed from Shaw Air Force Base, N.C., the time needed to fix vehicles varies with the problem found during the initial inspection but 90 percent of the time the parts needed are located here.
"Our maintenance sections perform everything from minor vehicle preventative maintenance to complete asset overhaul," said Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Mead, Vehicle Fleet flight chief deployed form Langley Air Force Base, Va. "In addition to the 800 vehicle fleet at Bagram, we manage and maintain 86 vehicles that are at 6 other forward operating bases."
One of the flights most recent projects is installing 41 MRAPs vehicles with rocket propelled grenade netting.
"The MRAP project began with the request from the 755th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron to better protect the Airmen who patrol the outside perimeter of Bagram," said Mead, a native of Moscow, Penn.
The vehicles were configured with explosively formed projectile side armor which fit well with the TTPs in Iraq but offered little protection from RPG attacks in Afghanistan, which is the enemy's weapon of choice.
"This was a huge effort that required sourcing of the net kits, coordination with users so as not to disrupt mission requirements, and initial training of our mechanics to perform the work," said Mead. "In the end, our entire fleet of vehicles that perform outside the wire missions were equipped with the best protection available. Our team of maintainers affects every mission by maintaining these assets and ultimately enabling the fight."