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Working in the hangar

By 1st Lt. Luis Sanchez
First published in
SFOR Informer#118, July 25, 2001

To perform its mission, the German Battle Group employs a wide variety of vehicles in tasks across its Area of Responsibility. Behind the vehicles there are huge quantities of maintenance hours put in by the members of the Maintenance Support Platoon, a well-organised team that keeps the mission moving.

Rajlovac - The ” Instandsetzungszug” (Maintenance Support Platoon) deals with the mechanical problems of more than 200 vehicles of various types, from cars to Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC). In addition, they carry out individual weaponry and communications system repairs for the German Battle Group. The platoon is part of the HQ and Support Company that includes all the Combat Service Supports and provides services to four tactical companies.
The unit is comprised of 46 staff, including six locals, and divided into two working parties, one for armoured wheeled vehicles and the other for cars, buses, vans and other vehicles.
"Our mission is to keep the fleet operative. The Fuchs and Luchs and medical vehicles are our first priority,” said 2nd. Lt. Axel Ische, platoon commander.
The workshop is an active place where a lot of vehicles roll in and out and nobody stops working. Between 10 and 15 cars, and about 8 Fuchs and Luchs are repaired every day. They fix not only breakdowns and faults, but they also conduct scheduled maintenance on vehicles. Every vehicle must pass monthly, quarterly, yearly and biennial services. First-rate maintenance is the key point in keeping the battle group on the road and they really achieve it.
Every morning all the workshop staff meet for the daily briefing directed by the platoon commander. He distributes jobs and gives directions to the team leaders for their daily tasks. Then it is time to work and the workshop looks like a beehive, full of mechanical rattles where nobody remains inactive. While performing a job, the mechanic goes to the maintenance office when a spare part is needed. All the components have a control number. With the help of microfilms, a request with the control number is made to the workshop store where the mechanic collects the part (a computer assists the process). Once the repair has been done, an inspection is made to ensure that it has been completed correctly.
"The common problems are tyres, shock absorber, suspension, leaking oil and steering. Due to the hilly terrain, the vehicles suffer more than in Germany and that increases maintenance,” explained Sgt. Christian Schröder, the leader of the armoured vehicles team, which is comprised of 10 persons. “It is very interesting to be here. Now it is real and not an exercise. If something happened to the vehicle it must be ready as soon as possible,” he added.
One of his men, Cpl. Steffan Heinrich said, “The job is similar to that in Germany. The only difference is the weather; I used to work in colder conditions."

Technical Data

Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle
Configuration- 8x8 amphibious
Crew 4
Weapons: 1x20 mm gun
1x 7.62 mm MG (anti-aircraft)
Engine: Daimler-Benz OM403 A 10-cylinder
390hp at 2,500 rpm (diesel)
Armoured Personnel Carrier
Configuration: 6x6 amphibious
Crew 2+10
Weapons: 1x 7.62 mm MG
Engine: Mercedes-Benz Model OM 402A V-8
320hp at 2,500 rpm (diesel).

"Normally we can fix all the problems. Three weeks ago there was an accident involving a Fuchs and a local lorry, (nobody was injured). It was so badly damaged that we could not repair it on our own, and a special mechanical team came from Germany,” said Ische.
To perform its mission, the platoon has a crew of specialists - mechanics, electricians, armourers and electronic experts - all in a fully integrated system. They are divided in teams directed by a leader, each of them in charge of a different kind of job. If a breakdown or accident in the terrain occurs, a two-person crane team would recover any vehicle. The weapon staff takes control over all the weapons system attached to the vehicles (guns, machine-guns) and all the individual weaponry from HK G-36 rifle to pistol. Radio equipment problems, such as may occur with the Global Positioning System (GPS) for instance, are solved by the communications team. In short, the Maintenance Platoon is a fully-integrated team working hard in a good atmosphere and partnership to perform the mission in the best conditions.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: Germany