May 11, 2015 –
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – The 88th Regional Support Command currently has the distinction of hosting the first Stryker Field Level Maintenance New Equipment Training (FLMNET) to take place in the Army Reserve, at Equipment Concentration Site 10, April 24-May 12, here.
The training is being taken by both 88th RSC civilian mechanics and Soldiers of the 349th and 355th Chemical Companies, both of whom will be fielding the M1135 Nuclear, Biological, Chemical, Reconnaissance Vehicle (NBCRV) Stryker, making the training essential for both units.
The training involves taking the NBCRV apart and how to maintain the vehicle, said Michael DiOrio, an instructor for General Dynamics, whose civilian contractors are instructing those attempting to become NBCRV maintainers.
“There’s a myriad of instruction that involves top-to-bottom maintenance,” DiOrio said. “We do testing on the power pack, we remove the transfer case and differential … and in the process of all that we try to show them how all these components relate to the Stryker.”
The NBCRV is basically an armored truck, so anyone with minimal mechanical experience should be able to apply their skills to maintaining a Stryker, DiOrio said.
“We have to show them the concepts and how everything is put together and it’s critical they understand this,” he said. “We have a reputation at General Dynamics of having the best training program throughout the military and it’s always reflected during the evaluation of every course we teach.”
“It’s almost always 100 percent positive,” DiOrio said.
The mechanics belonging to the 88th RSC have performed excellently during the course, he added.
“These are seasoned mechanics and have been working on a variety of vehicles over the years,” DiOrio said. “They caught on to the concepts very quickly and in fact we’ve had to try and slow them down because they got ahead too quickly.”
Participating in the FLMNET is Kenyon White, a heavy mobile equipment inspector for the 88th RSC, who said as an equipment inspector he needs to know how the NBCRV operates.
“I have to know how the Stryker functions and what it is I’m looking for when I come to inspect this vehicle,” White said. “If I didn’t have the training and had to look this vehicle over, I wouldn’t know the first thing about it.”
Learning about the vehicle and the techniques involved with maintaining it has been a tremendous learning experience, White continued.
“Most of us here have only seen the Stryker in pictures and videos, but now we’re getting hands on training with the vehicle and how the system works,” White said. “Even though this is for the NBCRV it gives us a general knowledge of the Stryker and how it performs.”
The level of instruction from General Dynamics has been superb, White said, with trainers who know every inch of the vehicle and how each component functions.
“They present the information in a way that’s easy to comprehend, because most of us are mechanics and they aren’t trying to spoon feed us the information,” he said. “They’re letting us perform as mechanics and correcting any faults or mistakes we make.”
The training is also mission critical for Spc. Manuel Rios, a Stryker weapons system maintainer for the 355th Chemical Co. from Las Vegas, whose unit will be fielding the NBCRV’s, making him directly responsible for the maintenance of the Stryker’s.
“This is the first time I’ve ever handled the NBCRV … in past schools I worked on every Stryker except this model, which is a lot different,” Rios said. “It has its own systems, like climate control and a pressurized system to keep chemicals out. The other Stryker’s are mostly infantry and engineer vehicles, whereas this one detects chemicals.”
Rios said learning about the chemical systems has been the most beneficial aspect of the training, with the instructors being especially thorough in their teaching.
“They’re more in-depth than what I’ve learned at normal Army schools … in three weeks I’ve learned more than I have in four months elsewhere,” Rios said.
Although located in Las Vegas, the 355th Chemical Co. is attached to the 349th, the latter of which is based here at JBLM, Rios said, with both locations to field the NBCRV’s.
“This is the Stryker we will be fielding and it’s rare to get this opportunity to get our hands on the vehicle itself,” he said. “My unit’s taken the opportunity to learn about the NBCRV well in advance of receiving it.”
Rios said the FLMNET will allow him to go back to his unit and instruct them on the different variants of the NBCRV.
“They’ve given me a lot of guidance and manuals to learn from,” Rios said. “I want to take this knowledge back home and share it with my Soldiers.”