JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- The U.S. Army Reserve's 99th Regional Support Command is partnering with units located throughout its 13-state region as part of the command's new Maintenance Sustainment and Readiness Program.

The program gives Army Reserve Soldiers the opportunity to perform maintenance tasks at the 99th RSC's Area Maintenance Support Activities and Equipment Concentration Sites in order to increase skill proficiency and enhance unit readiness.

"I'm providing the opportunity of utilizing my assets, the ECSs and the AMSA shops, to make more deployable assets -- that's the whole design of the program," explained Maj. Gen. Troy D. Kok, commanding general of the 99th RSC. "I'm a provider; I support commands in creating readiness."

Readiness is key to ensuring that the U.S. Army Reserve remains the most capable, combat-ready and lethal federal reserve force in the nation's history.

"This program works toward 'Objective T,' because the individual Soldier is working on his or her maintenance training, becoming a better mechanic," Kok said. "This spills over and creates 'Objective R' as unit equipment is repaired, work orders are completed, and unit readiness increases."

The program not only enhances the readiness of the Soldiers who train at the AMSAs and ECSs, but also increases the readiness of the units whose equipment is serviced.

"This program gives the Soldiers the opportunity to put wrenches back into their hands in order to improve their Military Occupational Specialty proficiency, develop their skill sets, improve their knowledge and gain some experience," explained Mark Norwood, acting director of Logistics for the 99th RSC. "It's also going to improve the retention and morale of these Soldiers, and our mission is going to be supported by getting equipment back to the customer in a much faster manner."

Since the program's kickoff in November, the 99th RSC has hosted approximately three-dozen Soldiers from five companies who completed more than a dozen equipment work orders during three Battle Assembly weekends at several AMSAs and ECSs located throughout the 99th RSC's region stretching from Maine to Virginia.

"The maintenance sustainment and readiness program is a three-tiered program designed for different levels," Kok said. "First, you've got a brand-new mechanic who comes out of Advanced Individual Training and has never worked in the Army. Once they graduate, if they don't immerse themselves in operations, they start losing the skills.

"What we're offering is the initiation into maintenance," he continued. "When you have Soldiers coming back from AIT, send them to me and we will integrate them into an AMSA or ECS. That shop will utilize them from a manpower perspective, and they can shadow and work with a mechanic one-on-one in whatever their specialty is, be it light vehicle maintenance, heavy vehicle maintenance, air conditioning -- we have it all.

"The person that the Soldier is working with can then integrate them on certain job orders based on what their requirements and needs are in order to better train them," he added.

"I see a lot of benefits in that we get to train our lower-enlisted Soldiers," said Staff Sgt. David Waterman, a mechanic with the 3/319th Logistics Support Battalion who also works as a civilian technician at one of the 99th RSC's ECSs. "That's our job, that's what we're paid to do and what we came in the Army to do."

While the first part of the three-tiered maintenance program focuses on the individual Soldier, the second tier supports maintenance sections within larger units, giving these sections the opportunity to service equipment belonging to their own unit or another Army Reserve unit serviced by a particular AMSA.

"This part of the program is designed for the AMSA shop to either bring their customers to the AMSA, or for the AMSA to go to the customer," Kok said.

"Our work orders are going to feed the Soldiers with opportunities and it's going to help them develop their skills, and at the same time help us get our work orders completed in order to get the equipment back to the customer," Norwood added.

The third tier of the program is geared toward maintenance companies, offering an opportunity for these units to set up complete maintenance operations at an ECS in order to provide maintenance for all supported units in the area.

"The larger operation is where we look at the third tier of the program," Kok said. We take a maintenance unit and help them function in their wartime environment.

"Under that concept, we would like the maintenance company to sign for a facility, then they roll in and all the work orders are laid out for them. The ECS frontloads the work orders based on the conditions the unit says it needs to work on." he continued. "We create the mission based off the work orders that are coming in -- that's the mission for the weekend. When we give them the mission, we're also giving them not just equipment but all the repair parts and everything they need to accomplish the mission."

The 99th RSC operates 26 AMSAs throughout the northeastern United States where Army Reserve dual-status technicians service and repair units' vehicles, small arms, communications-electronics gear, engineering and other equipment, as well as Army watercraft.

The command's nine ECSs provide secure locations to store and maintain unit equipment that cannot be stored at unit locations. The medical ECS here provides storage and repair for medical, dental, veterinary, early entry hospital equipment, and medical supplies used on a recurring basis for Innovative Readiness Training missions conducted by Army Reserve medical units in under-served communities across the United States.

The 99th RSC establishes customer-oriented operational synergies and disciplined, holistic, resource-efficient processes that produce maximum unit readiness for missions at home and abroad in order to achieve and sustain levels of USAR materiel, training and personnel readiness that ensures the most capable, lethal force in the history of the U.S.

Commanders and training NCOs interested in obtaining more information or participating in the 99th RSC's Maintenance Sustainment and Readiness Program should contact Christopher Miller at christopher.r.miller52.civ@mail.mil or (609) 562-7471.