Yes, qualified technicians maintain your tactical vehicle air conditioners

By Sgt. 1st Class John Freese | 88th Readiness Division | Feb. 18, 2021

FORT MCCOY, Wis. —

The 88th Readiness Division's Directorate of Logistics recently hosted 10 students for the Air Conditioner Maintenance Course, conducted from the Draw Yard at Fort McCoy, Wis., on Feb. 10, 2021.

The 32-hour course prepares automotive technicians to repair vital air-conditioning systems used in all types of vehicles.

“I grew up in a different military, where air-conditioning wasn't a requirement,” said Course Instructor, Brant Amble, referring to a time before vehicles were routinely armored, and before Soldiers donned nearly fifty pounds of body armor when driving into hostile territory. “We found out that in combat roles, with heavy [body] armor, and without air conditioning you burn up,” Amble said.

Every military vehicle that carries a passenger is now required to have air temperatures that are livable and workable in the most austere settings. This includes everything in the inventory, from trucks, dozers, scrapers, and Humvees, Amble added.

Obviously this is important in the severe temperatures of South Asia or Africa in which U.S. Service Members have found themselves stationed in the last couple of decades. But it also includes the hot summer temperatures that can occur right here at Fort McCoy.

Transportation, Engineer and other Army Reserve or Army National Guard units often conduct lengthy convoy exercises in the more than 60,000 acres of training space at Fort McCoy, in July or August. Without air conditioning, temperatures inside passenger cabins can easily reach 90 degrees or more. Think then what temperatures heavily equipped Soldiers can face in some of our current overseas locations. Cooling those spaces is vital to the lucidity and safety of Soldiers who must operate, ride, and respond to threats from those vehicles.

“It's going to be warm, no matter where you go at some point, so you got to have air-conditioning.” said Amble.

The course is open to any automotive technician from the U.S. Army Reserve or Army National Guard. However, Amble said the course, ART 609, was designed with military technicians particularly in mind. These are U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers who also work full time for the Army Reserve in a civilian job, often in the same location and similar role as that of their uniformed position.

The course provides real-world training.

“I don't have much experience at all with [air conditioning] components...so it's all new knowledge to me,” said Michael Owens, a MILTECH from Area Maintenance Activity shop 35, in Elk Horn, Neb.

“Now I have a very good understanding where it all is in these two vehicles,” he said pointing over his shoulder to a HUMVEE and a Light Medium Tactical Vehicle; both common vehicles in the Army Reserve inventory.

Owens is an automotive mechanic MILTECH, and a Sergeant in his Army Reserve unit, with the military occupational specialty of 91B, Wheeled Mechanic.

“It's very exciting to be a little more knowledgeable in my career,” and have the ability to provide know-how to other Army Reserve mechanics in his unit, Owens said. Also, he added, he now feels that he can even work on the air conditioner system in his own car.

ART 609 can accommodate up to 12 students in each session. It is offered annually, or more frequently, if demand warrants it.

Anyone interested in taking the course, or other offerings in the maintenance course curriculum, can contact Melissa Guthmiller at the Fort McCoy Draw Yard, (608) 388-8339, and melissa.r.guthmiller.ctr@mail.mil.

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