Story and photos by
Sgt. Robert M. England
2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs
YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, Wash. — When it comes to equipment, one disabled vehicle can put many lives in danger.
Whether deployed to combat zones or training centers, enabler support acts as a combat multiplier for combat arms units, bringing potency or longevity to the fight.
Mechanics from the Combat Repair Team, attached to the 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, “Strykehorse,” 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, deployed to Yakima Training Center in Washington state for the month of October in support of the squadron’s monthlong training.
The mechanics’ efforts at all hours of the day allow the Strykehorse squadron to maintain combat effectiveness across the broad scope of its daily training operations.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Timothy McDonald, the 2-14th CRT maintenance technician, said that he and his crew of 33 Soldiers and two civilian contractors support the cavalry squadron the way they were trained to: by repairing broken equipment.
“We provide direct support through repairs to the Strykers, as well as the guns; pretty much anything that breaks, we fix it,” McDonald said. “Anything to keep them shooting, moving and communicating, we provide that at our level.”
On average, the 2-14th CRT services 15 to 20 vehicles, daily, to include weapons systems, said McDonald.
Spc. Christopher Busch, an all-wheel vehicle mechanic with the 2-14th CRT, noted some of the issues as operator errors, while others occurred during intended usage of the equipment. All issues, however, have been different from one another, he added.
“All of the faults we’ve had, have been real random, not a lot of the same parts breaking out here. It’s always something new and something different that comes in,” Busch said. “Sometimes they’re operator-level faults, like showing them how to work the heater or properly work different aspects of the truck, or they’re big faults, like oil leaking from places it shouldn’t.”
Busch said that, in garrison, the vehicles are not subjected to the types of tough training across rugged terrain as they are when in a training environment. They may have the routine maintenance inspections and road tests, but it’s no comparison to what the vehicles face in a place like YTC.
“Back at Schofield, the trucks don’t break as often; they’re not getting run on missions,” said Busch. “Out here, they’re driving on dirt roads, hills; they’re really putting these trucks through their paces.”
One of the benefits of pushing the trucks to their limit in this environment is that the mechanics are able to identify issues that may occur in a deployed environment under similar usage conditions, Busch said.
“The trucks are getting what it would be like in Iraq or Afghanistan, so we’re seeing a lot of the faults we would see downrange here, as opposed to garrison, where we don’t see too many problems,” Busch said.
When the time comes to repair vehicles and equipment, McDonald said that the facilities may not be fully equipped like his workstations back on Oahu, but his talented crew still manages to get the job done.
“We make do with what we have,” McDonald said. “We have the things we require to do our job and to make sure the mission is successful; that’s the main thing.”
Many of the issues at YTC are operator-level issues, so the Soldiers in the units are not being thoroughly trained on some of the equipment, McDonald added.
“But I have a lot of young Soldiers that are straight out of Advanced Individual Training, and they’ve had that training, whether it’s operator-level or direct support-level,” he continued. “They take that training and they’re able to share it with the operators and show them how to work the equipment. I think that alone makes this mission a whole lot easier on all of us.”