FORT HOOD, Texas – A small group of Soldiers stand equipped and ready to restore the firing capabilities of a weapon when a gunner pulls the trigger and nothing happens.
Any component inside a weapon has the potential to break or malfunction, whether it is a firing pin in a .50 caliber machine gun or the thermal weapon sights on an M1A2 Abrams tank.
From the first round fired to the last, the armament shop with the 215th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, works day and night in order to support gunnery by repairing problems with the electrical and mechanical components of every brigade weapon system.
“The gunnery is a combined effort between the vehicles and its crew,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jason Jonas, the armament systems maintenance warrant officer with Bravo Field Maintenance Company, 215th BSB. “It’s to validate that the vehicle can perform, and the crew can execute their task.”
During the gunnery season, the shop has at least a two-Soldier team ready to make repairs around the clock.
“We start April 1st through June 29th,” said Jonas, a Lewisville, Texas, native. “Someone is here in the office every single day.”
The armament Soldiers aim to return the malfunctioning parts to working order as soon as they can.
“We saved the brigade over $3,131,442.75 during the last year’s gunnery,” said Jonas. “Instead of purchasing and replacing parts, we repaired them.
Having both the equipment and the training, the shop can repair electrical issues within the firing mechanism of a weapon.
“One thing we are working on right now is the selector switch for a Bradley,” said Jonas. “The gunner selects which type of ammunition to use with a flip of a switch.”
Tests are run on the equipment to identify its deficiencies. The longest test that the shop has in its arsenal is three hours long. Once the results are received then the repairs can begin.
“If a tank brakes down, we need to test it in order to find what is wrong and repair it as fast as possible,” said Spc. Aaron Alejandro, a fire control repairer with 215th BSB. “The faster we fix the tank, the faster the crew inside it can qualify.”
The shop can receive a plethora of parts at one time; some can be a quick fix while others take multiple tests just to find the problem.
“We stay up and work on the part as long as possible to get the system it belongs to working again,” said Alejandro.
Working around the clock during the gunnery can be exhausting but a Soldier enjoying what he does can produce a good product.
“It’s great to be able to see the different parts that are brought in and see the repairs we made to fix it working,” said Alejandro.
“The more work I do on a repair, the more fulfilling it is seeing it leave the shop.”