Science and Technology News

Sunday, October 2, 2011

‘Refresh, Refurb’: Doing More With Less, Liking it That Way

By J. Elise Van Pool

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan, Sept. 20, 2011 — Logistics Task Force-4 (LTF-4), part of the 401st Army Field Support Battalion–Kandahar, 401st Army Field Support Brigade, at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, is working with the Marine Corps on a new, one-of-a-kind maintenance program that will keep Marine Corps vehicles in the fight for an additional two years.

Called the Refresh and Refurb program, or R2 for short, the program will take place over three years and LTF-4 will rebuild nine types of vehicles ranging from seven-ton trucks to M88 heavy equipment recovery vehicles. The program expects to rebuild about 750 vehicles in all.

This program is the first of its kind in the history of the Army and Marine Corps. For the first time, the Marines will partner with an Army Material Command tactical unit to do depot-level maintenance in a forward area.

“It’s about improving vehicle readiness for the Marines,” said Lt. Col. Robert Roy, LTF-4 commander. “The vehicles don’t have to be shipped back to CONUS [continental United States] so the warfighter has a bigger pool of vehicles available.”

After careful study of maintenance and supply records, AMC and the Marines identified parts on each vehicle that most commonly need replacement. Then they drafted a statement of work which details the procedure for rebuilding each of the vehicles.

“They are doing as close to a complete overhaul as possible,” Tim Blair, equipment specialist for LTF-4, said. “We are giving it a new lease on life.”

As a result of the high operational tempo and harsh environmental conditions in southern Afghanistan, such as high temperatures and large amounts of blowing sand, vehicles tend to breakdown faster and need a greater level of maintenance.
“It’s a very challenging environment for maintenance, extreme heat takes its toll on the rubber and plastic components” said Blair. Even the microprocessors in the vehicles’ computer systems are affected.

This is where the R2 program comes in. Essentially, the vehicles will be broken down to the frame and rebuilt, piece by piece, paying close attention to the parts identified in the initial study. The rebuild will allow the vehicles to be driven two more years before needing heavy-level maintenance again.

The program is also expected to save the Marines millions of dollars by deferring the need to purchase and ship new vehicles to Afghanistan. On average, the program is expected to save between $100,000 and $150,000 per vehicle.

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