Award-winning maintenance team keeps training on track in Europe
April 27, 2011
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - In an environment of dwindling resources, the 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command Organizational Maintenance Activity (OMA) works to assist training units as they prepare to deploy.
By demonstrating a willingness to help others and a strong work ethic, the Department of the Army (DA) selected the OMA as the 1st place winner of the DA Award for Maintenance Excellence for fiscal year 2010.
Established in 1982, the award recognizes exceptional accomplishment in maintenance. The OMA won in the medium category for Table of Distribution and Allowances (TDA) units for displaying expertise and professionalism in the performance of their tasks, maintaining Soldier competency, and displaying effective leadership.
After competing since 2007, for the Chief of OMA, the win is a matter of pride.
"It makes me feel great. I told the Chief of Staff I was going to keep competing until I won DA," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jose M. Agosto, Chief of the OMA.
With a myriad of training resources to choose from, U.S and multinational units come from all over Europe to train at the Grafenwoehr training area as they prepare to deploy to Afghanistan or other contingency operations. Combining maneuver and live-fire training areas, with simulations and communications, the JMTC provides realistic training, while supporting theater security cooperation initiatives. When units convoy to and from the area, they call the OMA.
"We provide area recovery all the way to Nuremberg for Europe," said Agosto. "When they [units] are convoying this way or leaving out of here, they call us and say I'm going to be on the road, and can you provide back-up support or recovery support."
Formerly a garrison asset, OMA realigned under the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, JMTC. The unit takes on a bigger support role in helping the JMTC train units for combat.
Whatever the requirement, the JMTC can project an expeditionary training package to support Soldiers training anywhere in the world. It is the OMA that ensures JMTC organizations have the tactical equipment they need to train.
"Our main mission is JMTC tactical equipment- to maintain it," said Agosto. "When TSAE [Theater Support Activity Europe] sends teams out to Romania or anywhere else, their equipment is here. We maintain it. So then we help to get the equipment ready and get it out of here."
According to Agosto, the OMA is part of the big training machine, without which, the JMTC could not operate.
"We do a number of different things to support the government, from fuel to recovery to radios," said SPC Michael J. Chickonoski, a construction equipment mechanic working at OMA.
The Grafenwoehr Training Area is comprised of 57,000 acres of ranges and training areas, with 44 modern, computerized live-fire ranges in its midst. Agosto says, without OMA, ranges would not function and units throughout Europe would have difficulty procuring certain training aids from their local training support center. Along with field maintenance support, OMA is responsible for ordering Class III (P) packaged petroleum products and Class IX repairs parts and supplies, which are needed in the maintenance or repair of all Army materiel-not including medical materiel- and in other operations for all organizations in the JMTC.
"Right now, all the ranges targets even the targets that come up, all that is Class IX. We order thousands of boxes," said Agosto. "[We also order] the batteries for the target mechanisms."
Agosto is a true believer in the better management of resources and he says he treats federal money likes it's his money. Before "efficiency" was the current catchphrase, in 2009, he was instrumental in reducing the cost of purchasing Class IX by streamlining the ordering process through OMA.
With twenty-seven years of Army service under his belt, Agosto remembers a time when the Army did not do such a good job managing their resources.
"I remember when I was coming up. You are a young Soldier, and you see a lot of waste," said Agosto. "You figure there is a better way to do this...I'm a taxpayer, so I'm not like the ones that say this is not my money."
As a secondary mission, OMA provides maintenance support to other tactical units who reside in the Grafenwoehr military community that do not have organizational maintenance assets.
"Everything else that is tactical- weapons, radios, night vision devices and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) equipment- that belongs over here, to any of the sections or units, from JMTC, in Grafenwoehr and Vilseck, we either maintain it or ensure it is properly maintained," said Agosto.
If a unit needs help, Agosto says his organization is there-a fact well-known by the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade, one of four combat brigades in U.S. Army Europe, preparing to deploy to Afghanistan this year.
"We help because, bottom line, they are deploying and they need to be ready," said Agosto.
As the172nd SIB was preparing their equipment for deployment, the unit realized there was an issue with their brake test machines.
"They couldn't brake test anything bigger than a HMMWV, so they started calling us to, pretty much, brake test all their equipment, especially the equipment they're taking with them,." said Agosto.
Support requests are not relegated to U.S Army units, or to the normal work day. Chickonoski remembers getting a call while shopping, off-duty.
"I just got a call we have a rolled over Air Force HMMWV," said Chickonoski. "I was actually in the middle of the commissary shopping. I put the stuff back and I came down here to OMA and got the truck and went out there. "
If a unit needs to fuel up a tank, pull a vehicle out of the mud, or a forklift, they call the OMA.
"It's a good unit to be in," said Chickonoski. "We do all sorts of stuff for everybody."
For more information about JMTC, please visit our website at www.hqjmtc.army.mil. For additional questions, please call the Public Affairs Office at 09641-83-7776.