By Mr. Randy Tisor (TACOM)January 15, 2020
DETROIT ARSENAL, Mich. -- When faced with budgetary issues that threatened to curtail the mission of overhauling M4A1 light weapons, Kristin Jones, a Weapons Product Support Integration Directorate supervisor in the Tank-automotive and Armaments Command's Integrated Logistics Support Center, worked to change the current repair system.
Training demands at Forts Benning, Leonard Wood and Jackson require ready availability of the M4, but the repair pipeline wasn't working as well as it could.
Jones thought there might be another way, one that had previously been discussed but never acted upon. There were several stakeholders involved in making a change, not just TACOM and the ILSC, but the ILSC's Fleet Management Expansion sites at each training post as well as Training and Doctrine Command and the training units themselves.
"The lack of (weapons) overhaul funding that we had received across the board lead me to start thinking outside the box of how I was going to maintain readiness on a weapon systems that has over a million weapons," Jones said. "So, we looked for a workaround and one of the workarounds was this project, in essence, allowing our FMX sites to become depot-like."
The idea, born of the necessity to keep Soldiers training with their weapons, quickly gained a following and became the Cost Avoidance Increased Readiness initiative.
Jones partnered with Joe Coakley, chief of maintenance for the ILSC's FMX teams, to develop a plan to repair the M4 weapons at FMX facilities instead of sending them for costlier, depot-level overhaul. Special Repair Activities within the Forts Leonard Wood, Benning and Jackson FMX facilities were spun up with necessary training and certifications.
With stakeholder buy-in, the initiative became a program.
Jones and Coakley, along with their TRADOC partners, worked out the myriad issues relating to accountability tracking associated with the M4 lower receiver, the only component of the weapon to have a serial number and, therefore, sensitive and highly accountable. Jones further explained that no other part of the weapon, singularly or collectively, constitutes an M4.
Cost was not the only savings; units saved time as well. Instead of waiting for a weapon to return from depot repair, a wait that could be lengthy, weapons could be repaired close to the field level and returned within days or, sometimes, hours.
"We've cut down on the timeframe that they're waiting for the weapon (to be repaired)." Jones emphasized. "Considerably."
According to Coakley, the CAIR program will be reviewed at the end of the fiscal year to determine whether or not to continue to lower receiver swaps at the three FMX sites. Options are to keep or modify program as necessary or revert to depot-level maintenance.
Jones stated that the program is estimated to be able to handle 500 weapons a month, or 6,000 yearly, depending upon availability of the lower receivers.
The CAIR program aligns with the Army Materiel Command focus of providing materiel readiness in preparation for future contingencies.
About Tank-automotive and Armaments Command:
TACOM manages the Army's ground equipment supply chain, which constitutes about 60 percent of the Army's total equipment. If a Soldier drives it, shoots it, wears it or eats it, TACOM sustains it.
TACOM's Integrated Logistics Support Center executes repair parts planning and supply chain management for more than 3,500 weapon systems. These systems form the core of America's ground combat capability. When the force needs critical components delivered, whether at home or abroad, it depends on TACOM.
TACOM oversees six of the Army's manufacturing arsenals and maintenance depots across the United States, which are part of the Army's Organic Industrial Base. The industrial artisans from the Army's OIB deliver when the Army needs equipment manufactured, repaired, upgraded or modernized.
The Detroit Arsenal, home to TACOM headquarters, is the only active-duty U.S. Army installation in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. Detroit Arsenal and its Michigan-based workforce of more than 6000 people contribute billions of dollars in economic impact to the region's economy each year.
TACOM's workforce includes highly skilled and uniquely qualified professionals, from engineers and industrial artisans to senior logisticians and business analysts. The largely civilian workforce is critical to supporting Army readiness around the world.