Soldiers entering the Army's "91-Juliet" military occupational specialty (MOS) trained at Fort McCoy's Regional Training Site (RTS)-Maintenance in January and February in the Quartermaster and Chemical Equipment Repair Course.
The course teaches the basic skills a Soldier needs to earn the 91J MOS to become a quartermaster and chemical equipment repairer. In this MOS, the Soldier supervises or performs unit, direct, and general support maintenance on chemical equipment, quartermaster machinery, forced-air heaters, and special purpose equipment, according to the Army job description for the MOS.
Sgt. 1st Class Marcos Miller, course manager at RTS-Maintenance, said the course is completed in two three-week phases. "The first half of the first phase deals with a lot of basic principles," he said.
Those basic learned principles include gaining skills on how to navigate through a military technical manual as well as becoming familiarized with the types of tools used to maintain and service equipment.
"We help them make sure the students have the right tools and skills for the (work) they will have to do," Miller said.
Heaters and decontamination units are some of the equipment that students work on during phase one of the course. Once phase two begins, students train on laundry and water-purification systems as well as dryer/tumbler systems.
"One of the systems the students work on in phase two includes the LADS (Laundry and Dryer System)," Miller said. "It is a mobile system made to go out in the field. The system, for example, will collect water once in the morning and use that same water over and over. It filters the water before each new cycle. It has its own recycling system and its own purification system."
Throughout the course, safety measures and procedures are emphasized to all students.
"Besides basic safety ... we also go over fire safety and extinguishers," Miller said.
"These are important measures for them to know to complete their work and to do it safely."
Miller said one of the most difficult pieces of equipment the students learn about is the 3000 Reverse-Osmosis Water Purification Unit.
"This unit has ... many electronics behind it that manage the valves, the timing, sensors, and related parts," Miller said. "That alone makes it more challenging to teach about and to troubleshoot if there's a repair that needs to be done."
Spc. Hunter Blehm with the Washington National Guard's 792nd Chemical Company at Grand View said he appreciated the training.
"I had a pretty good understanding before I came here of the mechanical side of all of this," Blehm said. "However, this course has given me good, in-depth training - especially on electrical systems."
Blehm added that his new skills as a quartermaster and chemical equipment repairer will definitely help his unit.
"Getting back to my unit, this will help me understand and maintain some of our equipment better," Blehm said. "Plus, I can pass on knowledge I learned here to help our unit."
Much of the training was new for Sgt. Sarae Ath with the Texas National Guard's 949th Brigade Support Battalion at Fort Worth, and he said he also appreciated the training.
"I didn't come here with much knowledge and I don't have an electronic or mechanical background," Ath said.
"Since I have been through here though, I have got a (much) better understanding of many things associated with this career field. For example, I can now look through schematics and determine electrical flow. I also know more how this equipment ticks mechanically."
Miller is one of two instructors assigned to the course, and guest instructors also support the course.
Blehm said having instructors readily available to help them through the many technically specific training modules "really enhanced" his training experience.
"The instructor-to-student ratio is phenomenal, and we appreciate the one-on-one time our instructors are willing to provide so we understand everything we need to know," Blehm said.
RTS-Maintenance at Fort McCoy trains Soldiers in both active- and reserve-component forces.