TACOM LARs keep things movin'
March 16, 2013
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan--TACOM Logistics Assistance Representatives (LARs) keep things movin' as they make daily rounds of supported units in their mission to support the Warfighter. Spending a morning with four LARs at Bagram means lots of stops and logging at least one trip completely around Bagram Airfield as they work with their units.
TACOM is one of the Life Cycle Management Commands that fall under Army Sustainment Command and it unites all of the organizations that focus on soldier and ground systems throughout the entire life cycle. There are three primary types of TACOM LARS -- Automotive, Armament, and Soldier, Biological, Chemical further subdivided into seven LAR skills. LAR skills are Automotive -- Tactical, Automotive -- Combat, Automotive -- Engineer, Armament- Small Arms/Artillery, Armament -- Armor/Fire Control, Armament -- Aircraft, and Soldier, Biological, Chemical.
"LARs provide commanders with the technical guidance necessary to resolve weapon systems, equipment, and systemic logistics problems while coordinating national-level sustainment support for non-standard equipment and contractor support when required," said Charles W. Fick, Jr. in an article published in the January-February 2010 issue of Army Sustainment Magazine. "LARs also identify and report all logistics matters that have (or may create) an adverse impact on logistics readiness, including supply, maintenance, transportation, personnel, training, organization, systems, and doctrinal issues."
Mark Squire, TACOM Automotive LAR, summed up the role of the LARS succinctly when he observed, "our line of work is to support our Soldiers to keep them America's best."
The morning began by meeting TACOM Aircraft Armament LAR Joseph H. Bailey as he went to the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade to check on the aerial weapons systems and ammunition handling systems on Apache aircraft. He supports the unit as they perform maintenance on aircraft including weapons systems by carefully watching as the unit disassembles the aircraft for phase inspections or other work. He also provides support to the unit in keeping their personal weapons mission ready.
Bailey said he monitors the gun control boxes, turret control boxes, weapons control boxes and the overall systems processor. He said aircraft status is monitored daily and keeping the aircraft mission ready is a high priority.
"The extensive aviation armament maintenance schedule means few problems," Bailey said. "If something does go down, we do the research to get it back in the fight."
Moving on to one of the dozens of motor pools on Bagram, TACOM Automotive LAR Mark H. Squire met Soldiers from the 96th Aviation Support Battalion who provide logistical and maintenance support to the 101st Aviation Brigade's aircraft. Squire had recently helped them troubleshoot a problem that dead-lined a HEMTT 978A4 fueler.
"The fuel truck would crank but not start," Squire said, "The Soldiers weren't sure what the problem was."
Squire was able to identify and solve the problem in two days and return the vehicle to service refueling aircraft.
"He brings lots of knowledge and experience," said Sgt. Jonathan C. Cobb, 96th ASB motor sergeant. "He mentors the guys, but the training is the most valuable."
A few feet away from the 978A, the 96th ASB Soldiers engaged Robert T. Amano, a Soldier, Biological and Chemical LAR, about a problem they were having with a 350 gallon per minute fuel pump used to pump fuel into or out of fuel bladders. They clustered around him as he explained how to troubleshoot the piece of equipment and what to do in various scenarios.
"I handle laundry and bath equipment, food service equipment and biological and chemical detection equipment," Amano said.
The final stops of the morning were at the 396th Transportation Company and the 1st Maintenance Company, 1st Sustainment Brigade so George Van Brunt, TACOM Armament LAR, could see if unit armorers needed assistance.
"He (Van Brunt) oversees getting weapons repaired," said Sgt. Jeffrey A. Ackley 396th Trans said. "He tells me what I need to keep our weapons mission ready."
"My guys' success depends on my performance," said Ackley. "Many lives depend on this."
"The number one concern is weapons safety," said Van Brunt.
The last stop of the morning was with Spc. Chris M. Whitted, 1st Maintenance Co., 1st SBDE, who said he appreciates the classes Van Brunt provides for the Soldiers and the assistance in helping them complete operator and organizational maintenance on weapons.
Van Brunt said about 90 percent of the assistance the units need is to get parts. He also confirms condition codes for coded out (unserviceable) weapons.
The TACOM LARs supporting Operation Enduring Freedom are located in the 401st AFSB's logistics support elements and brigade logistics support teams. Their skill sets are matched to the supported unit's mission and equipment, however LARs frequently fly to units to provide additional support as required and the LARs reach-back capability taps into TACOM resources world-wide to provide timely answers and support.