By Mr. Stephen Standifird (Leonard Wood)June 9, 2016
There are nearly 15,000 weapons Fort Leonard Wood Soldiers in Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training use almost daily.
Those weapons, including the M9 pistol, M4 rifle, MK19 grenade launcher and M240 machine gun, are serviced and kept in working order by the staff in the Weapons/Optics Shop of the Transportation Support, TACOM Fleet Management Expansion.
"Our job is to conduct quarterly maintenance and service checks for all weapons on post," said Charles Shick, Weapons/Optics Shop supervisor.
Shick said the requirements for maintaining and servicing all of those weapons and optics systems is a non-stop job for his teams.
"We currently have 25 employees broken down into five teams," he said. "Four of the teams are assigned to units, and one is dedicated to the ranges."
The teams serve 54 units on the installation encompassing all of BCT and AIT. The range team serves 23 ranges, 12 training areas and five sections of the Fort Leonard Wood cantonment area, Shick said.
Each team typically consists of four small-arms repairers and two optics specialists. The range team has only one of each.
One major benefit to the units on Fort Leonard Wood is these teams are capable of not only conducting service checks, but also making on-the-spot repairs as needed.
"We inspect, service and repair weapons on site, including on the ranges," Shick said. "Units love that they can get great support when they need it. There is no need for units to stop training."
Vincent Benjamin, team lead for one of the unit teams, agreed.
"We can repair almost everything out here," he said. "Everything we can get parts for we can do right here on the spot. It saves the unit from dragging 50 guns to our shop."
As part of the unit quarterly checks, Benjamin said they check serviceability, functionality and safety for all the weapons and optics systems.
"Since it's basic training, they are using the weapons harder than most weapons get used," he said. "Once these weapons get worn pretty good, we get a lot of repairs."
An added bonus for Shick and his teams for the next week is an additional 16 Soldiers from the 107th Support Maintenance Company, Wisconsin National Guard, who are conducting their annual training here.
"We only get to do these types of training about every other year to support weapons maintenance," said Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Strittmater, small arms repairer. "We are working with various weapons systems to get more hands-on time, which is what we are out here for, to get better at our MOS (Military Occupational Specialty)."
Shick said all but two on his teams are prior-service military from all the branches of service, and they all understand the importance of having weapons and optics in good working order.
"Even though this post doesn't have the infantry guys, Soldiers still need weapons," Shick said.