Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif. –
When the Army Reserve Soldiers come to train at Fort Hunter Liggett, they don’t always bring their own equipment. The 63rd Readiness Division Equipment Concentration Site 170 (ECS) has the unique task of storing and maintaining equipment of all sorts for around 200 units across the U.S. that train here. Units who store their equipment with ECS 170 know it can be used by any other Reserve unit if needed, saving the Army the cost of shipping rolling stock and other equipment.
Matt Rado, ECS 170 manager, said more than 5,000 pieces of Army Reserve equipment are on site. “Every major exercise that happens on Fort Hunter Liggett, ECS provides 25 to 50 percent of all that equipment.”
While the large wheeled vehicles stored at the ECS are the most visible, more than 350 different types of equipment such as tents, generators, and communications equipment are counted in the ECS inventory. “We work on everything from small 3K generators to the M88 Hercules (armored recovery vehicle), which is the largest piece of rolling stock in the Army Reserve,” said Andrew Gallagher, maintenance supervisor. “At any one time we’ll have possibly 40 mechanics on the floor, working on any type of equipment from the newest JLTV to one of the oldest pieces of equipment, M-113 (personnel carrier) which was common during Desert Storm. Everything the Army Reserve fields out to the Soldiers we have some variety of it right here.”
In November, the ECS was preparing to support the 80th TTC’s engineer courses starting in January. “It’s a large task,” said Gallagher. “There are dozers, excavators, scrapers, backhoes. It all has to be fully mission-capable and ready to go to support the Soldiers coming in to train.”
Units range in size from just over a dozen Soldiers to up to 10,000 for a major exercise. Occasionally they get a short suspense for a high visibility exercise, but normally the ECS knows months in advance what equipment will be needed by an incoming unit.
Of course, it takes more than mechanics to keep an organization humming efficiently. Nothing moves without paperwork, and Jorge Medina, production control clerk, is one of those who makes sure it is in order.
“This is what we like to call the heart of the operations,” said Medina. When equipment is received by the storage branch, paperwork is routed to production control for work orders. ”Then it goes to the inspectors who check out the equipment and bring the results to us, and then send it to supply to order parts or to the shop to be worked on.” The inspectors give it a once-over before it is released to storage to be put back in service.
“We open and close about 450 minimum work orders per week every year,” said Medina. “It’s non-stop work here. We love it.”
His team mate Keith Finch, production control clerk, does most of the shipping and receiving. “Right now, we have about 300 pieces moving in and out. It’s quite a bit of coordination. We also keep track of anything that goes to rebuilders across the country.” Finch said that when training slows for the holidays, ECS is kept busy with maintenance and planning for the spring and summer exercises.
Francisco Lopez, storage services team leader, stood in front of a M-ATV mine-resistant vehicle which had just been serviced. Equipment may have been damaged during use and a full inspection is done to know what work orders to send out. “Basically, the Soldiers take fairly good care of the equipment,” he said, adding, “We try to perform our best for the United States military.”
Luis Diaz, warehouse specialist, is one of a half dozen employees who staff the 110,000 square feet warehouse filled with all sorts of dress-right-dress shelved equipment, from radios to generators to tents. There are technical manuals for every type of equipment, and a daily log to show what type of maintenance was done and when.
“Anything issued out to the customer is maintained before it goes out,” said Diaz. “We make sure it’s working properly, we do all the procedures, and after we know it’s good, we set it up for them to take.”
Alain Pallais, storage branch supervisor, said ECS lends out between 800 and 1,200 pieces of equipment to around 25 to 40 military units that train here in events such as Best Warrior Competition, gunnery courses, the TASS schoolhouse, or in major exercises such as Combat Support Training Exercise (CSTX) or Global Medic. “We have weaponry, communications systems, night vision goggles, everything that is needed in the exercise.”
“It’s very satisfying when they explain to us how useful this equipment was and what good condition it was in,” said Pallais. “It’s good to hear from the units how helpful ECS 170 is for their training.”
So when you see a Humvee or a JLTV driving down the road with a civilian in the driver’s seat, most likely it is an ECS employee making sure what the Soldiers get reflects their best work, that of maintaining and equipping the Army Reserve.