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NEWS | Aug. 9, 2016

88th RSC’s Operation Platinum Support puts Soldiers to work turning wrenches and improving readiness

By Catherine Threat, 88th RSC Public Affairs

FORT MCCOY, Wisconsin (August 8, 2016) - As the 88th Regional Support Command’s Operation Platinum Support mission continues, the benefits of this unique program are stacking up for Soldiers, their units, Equipment Concentration Site 67 and the 88th RSC.

Operation Platinum Support allows U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers in low-density supply and maintenance specialties to perform and gain proficiency in their technical skills while acting in direct support to the numerous exercises taking place on Fort McCoy.

Christopher Frick, ECS 67 manager said Operation Platinum Support was something ECS 67 and the 88th RSC Directorate of Plans and Training started laying the groundwork for three years ago.

“We saw a real need for soldiers to get more hands-on training,” said Frick, “more opportunity to do their jobs, to enhance and build their skill sets that they are not necessarily getting on a battle assembly weekend.” 

As part of their U.S. Army Reserve Annual Training participation in the 88th RSC’s Operation Platinum Support mission the 698th Quartermaster Company out of Nicholas, New York, the 818th Support Maintenance Company out of Baltimore, and the 1015 Quartermaster Company out of Baltimore, were turning wrenches and improving readiness at ECS 67 in July.

U.S. Army Reserve 1st Sgt. Kevin Merrill from the 698th Quartermaster Company assisted his Soldiers as they completed services and maintenance on Humvee’s at ECS 67. 

“At home station, we get to do just services,” said Merrill. “Here we get wrench time doing the repair, doing the trouble shooting so it enhances their capabilities.”

“Two thirds of the unit are supply technicians,” Merrill continued. “They are working in the Central Issue Facility and ECS warehouses right now stocking and maintaining, checking serviceability and checking tents they plan on issuing out for the next exercise. Next week there will be thousands of soldiers here drawing their equipment and our supply techs will be quite busy.”

Mathew Berndt, a supervisor at ECS 67, explained how the Soldiers who participate in Operation Platinum Support aren’t just learning, they are assisting the ECS with its mission as well. 

“We are short staffed and our employees are going on their own AT’s during the summer months,” said Berndt. “Out here they are accomplishing a lot of our more expedient repairs from the equipment that is coming in off issue and getting it back up to 10/20 standards so that we can issue it back out to the next units for the exercises.”

Berndt went on to explain how there’s not always a lot of time to turn wrenches or work on a wide variety of equipment at the unit level.

“Some of the equipment they get to work on here, they don’t even see at their home station. But more than likely, they will see it when they mobilize or deploy and this gives them a chance to work on that equipment and better their skills for the future,” said Berndt. “It’s not practice, it is real world, hands on work.”

Private 1st Class Christian Kaplan, 298th Support Maintenance Company mechanic, spent the afternoon removing the wheels from an FMTV for its annual service and maintenance.  

“We don’t get to do a lot of maintenance in our Reserve unit,” Kaplan said. “We just do basic maintenance on smaller trucks. It’s nice to get out here and use heavily used vehicles and get accustomed to bigger machinery and have all the tools that are available to us here. It’s a lot to expand my knowledge on what I’m doing. I’m learning every day in here. The civilians here are very knowledgeable, very hands on with us. They get down and get dirty with us.”

Kaplan went on to describe how Operation Platinum Support provided him with a more practical learning experience.

“These trucks are heavily used as they would be in a deployment situation so it’s not like we just service them and they sit. These get used, so a lot of ingenuity has to come into play,” said Kaplan.

Fellow 298th mechanic, Sgt. Vannoy Bryant, added that working with other units enhanced the training.

“It’s good because you never know who you’re going to deploy with, so it’s good to interact with different Soldiers and the knowledge they bring to the table. You’re always learning.”

Sergeant 1st Class Availeo Hubbard, 1015 Quartermaster Company NCOIC, spent the afternoon supervising his Soldiers as they prepared tents for turn in and storage.

“Training’s going good. Compared to battle assembly, it’s actually more hands on,” “BA is mostly classes and medical, here we are actually getting hands-on working together as a team, meeting new people, learning personalities, stuff like that. It is way more engaged than battle assembly,” Hubbard said.

“A lot of the guys are just learning how to break down tents for the first time, so that’s pretty good training, definitely team building and team work. A lot of group work.”

Frick summed up the benefits of Operation Platinum Support for the ECS and for everyone involved in the program.

“This mission is helping the ECS meet our goals. It’s helping us to reduce our backlog. It’s helping us to reduce our delinquent services. It’s helping us to reduce our overdue inventories. And it’s benefiting our customers because we are getting ahead.

“The Soldiers are not only helping us get equipment prepared for operation support- we support both WAREX and CSTX here on fort McCoy and a lot smaller functional exercises as well- but also helping us keep the equipment prepared for all of the customers who store equipment at ECS 67.

“Our customers are counting on us to make sure the equipment is mechanically sound and operationally ready when they need it. These Soldiers are helping accomplish that mission.”

By the completion of Operation Platinum Support this year, supply and maintenance Soldiers will have processed and inventoried thousands of pieces of equipment and are projected to complete more than 100 service and repair work orders.

“And for the Soldiers,” Frick continued, “Operation Platinum Support gives them an opportunity to come to Fort McCoy for two, three weeks and perform their jobs. To exercise their skill sets so when the time comes to be deployed, they know their job. This is readiness.”