New lessons for Kentucky Guard mechanics

By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Crane, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Stephen Brickhill, General Dynamics field level maintenance instructor, instructs Staff Sgt. David Fox and Sgt. Randle Gordon during a specialized maintenance class that took place April 16-May 3 at the Kentucky National Guard’s Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site facility on Fort Knox, Ky. The two-week course focused on the repairs needed to maintain the fleet of Stryker armored fighting vehicles for the 103rd Chemical Battalion. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Crane)

FORT KNOX, Ky. — Soldier mechanics from around the state got hands on training from the developers of the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicle April 16 -May 3 at the Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site (MATES) facility at Fort Knox, Ky.

This two-week course given by contractors from General Dynamics out of Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington, addressed the main problems for these vehicles that are keeping them dead lined across the Guard, Reserve and Active Duty components. The specialized maintenance training focused on enhancing the mechanics’ knowledge and skills on the vehicles for the 103rd Chemical Battalion.

“We’re here to teach them the chassis part of it, not the NBC equipment; anything from the wheels to the sweep, to the general drivelines. The engines, transmissions, transfer case, things that General Dynamics has seen over time that are tougher tasks to get fixed,” said Helmut Nunez-Morales , General Dynamics field level maintenance supervisor.

Since the Kentucky Army National Guard has several Stryker armored fighting vehicles fitted to be NBCRV’s, a need was identified to have further training on how to make repairs and keep up these vehicles and be ready to be deployed.

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“The threat that we face from the international community, or the chemical threat that we face in combat is real,” said Capt. Eric Green, assistant officer in charge at MATES. “For us to utilize our chemical units and the equipment they require is going to be a great task. It’s all about readiness and being able to stay in the fight and to deal with those threats as we face them.”

The extensive course gave the mechanics 144 hours of learning and a chance to take what questions they had directly to the source and get them answered by the instructors who were the subject matter experts on the vehicles.

Sgt. 1st Class Douglas Hall who is a full-time technician at MATES has worked on Strykers before but still was soaking in all the information the instructors were giving.

“The vehicles are (relatively) new in the Kentucky Guard and we needed to get more hands on training and more familiarization of certain items,” said Hall. “The class is excellent and it’s been challenging at times but it’s good training.”

Not only is the information relevant to the Kentucky Guard’s current battle readiness, its also something different for the Soldiers that are used to working on other vehicles.

“The mechanics are eager to learn,” said Green. “Typically they are working on Humvee’s and LMTV’s, rolling stock and such, so when opportunities like this come along, they are chomping at the bit for more knowledge.”

General Dynamics is a global aerospace and defense company who manufactures products and services to include combat vehicles, as well as weapons systems and munitions.

“There are not a lot of experienced maintainers, so to get General Dynamics to come down here to Kentucky is going to be very beneficial for this shop, our chemical Soldiers and for the state,” added Green.