FORT CAMPBELL, Kentucky- With a rush of noise and a flurry of sparks, the new plasma cutter came to life, with Soldiers of the 584th Maintenance Company, 129th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), watching attentively as civilian engineering instructors demonstrated how to use the machine to cut through sheet metal. The plasma cutter is one of many pieces of equipment housed within the Metal Working and Machining Shop Set (MWMSS) given to the 584th Maint. Co., who base their operations out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
After receiving the new equipment, Soldiers of the 584th Maint. Co. got straight to work training and familiarizing themselves with operating the equipment through hands-on instruction from April 3 to April 12.
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Danny Taylor, senior ordnance logistics officer for the 101st Airborne Div., explained more about the significance of the 584th being fielded the MWMSS equipment.
"This is the first Metal Working and Machining Shop Set (MWMSS) to be fielded to the 101st Airborne Division," stated Taylor. "The Allied Trade Specialist has the training, experience, and equipment to machine, fabricate, weld and repair certain parts and other items with this system. The MWMSS consolidates and containerizes the metal working capability into a deployable system and can be used in the garrison or field environment."
Taylor emphasized the innumerable benefits of having such a versatile and transportable machinery system.
"This system's prime transporter is the HEMTT (heavy expanded mobility tactical truck) load handling system," said Taylor. "The MWMSS has the capability to drill, cut, weld (oxygen/acetylene torch, plasma cutting), and shape different types of materials. It also has automated milling and lathe machines, otherwise known as computer numerical control (CNC).
Taylor mentioned that the 584th will also have the new and exciting capability of 3-D printing.
"The Army is conducting a limited user experiment on 3D printing and this unit will also have that capability," Taylor said. "The Army has been working to leverage the advantages of additive manufacturing or 3D printing in order to enhance readiness. For example, there may be repair part that is needed to make a vehicle or item FMC. The unit would order the part but it may not be available in the supply system. As an option, the Soldiers could use this system to repair or fabricate the repair part."
Sgt. Michael Jackson, allied trade specialist and section noncommissioned officer in charge for the 584th Maint Co., agreed that this system was a vital addition to operations in his shop.
"Each set of equipment contains multiple tools and equipment that gives my section the same capabilities as our entire warehouse and shop," stated Jackson. "With these capabilities it will allow our service and recovery team to conduct fabrication and repair jobs in the field or anywhere down range. This also improves our work-load capabilities, allowing us to do multiple jobs at once."
Jackson highlighted the importance of receiving proper training with the equipment as well as the benefits it had for his more junior Soldiers.
"The learning opportunities are endless," Jackson said. "Now we will be able to conduct training as well as maintain our shop workload. Soldiers will be able to improve their skills sets immensely with this added training, allowing them to perfect their trade."
Pvt. William Albert, also an allied trade specialist for the 584th Maint. Co., agreed that the training was going to help him and his fellow Soldiers greatly.
"The new equipment is great and will prove useful in filling in where field training has been lacking," said Albert. "Overall it's an asset that will be a great benefit once we get more familiar with the systems and equipment."