FORT LEE, Va. - - “If you see it’s not right, work to fix it,” says Sgt. 1st Class David Brattain, an Ordnance School Instructor.
Sgt. 1st Class David Brattain, a senior instructor at the U.S. Army Ordnance School, Fort Lee, Virginia, worked through obstacles to get Army maintainers a capability that will save valuable maintenance time and provide better accuracy when it comes to conducting cannon tube evaluations for gun tube serviceability.
Brattain teaches Soldiers how to maintain, troubleshoot and repair Stryker vehicles.
“These Soldiers arrive at the Ordnance School knowing nothing about Stryker vehicles, but when they graduate 17 weeks later, they are qualified Stryker systems maintainers,” said Brattain. “They have the skill sets to work at the apprenticeship level when they arrive at their first duty assignment, where their skills and experience will develop over time.”
Cannon tube evaluation has been a requirement ever since gun tubes were developed. That’s because each round that is fired from an Abrams tank, Stryker mobile gun system, howitzer, or mortar cannon places wear on the tube and sometimes causes internal damage, which is not visible from the outside.
Since the 1980s, the Army has used the M3 borescope to inspect and identify damage inside the gun tube, such as cracks and pitting. In fact, the mortar or cannon tube is considered not-mission-capable if the cannon tube evaluation is not done every 180 days, thus having a detrimental impact on readiness.
Recently, the Army fielded, as part of the Armament Repair Shop Set, a modernized video borescope to replace the M3 borescope that used mirrors and a light bulb. However, Brattain learned that while some maintainers had the new version, they were not using it.
Brattain made the discovery while providing advanced diagnostics training to Stryker maintainers in the field. During the training, Brattain observed maintainers using the M3 borescope instead of the modernized video borescope. When asked why, the maintainers said they were not comfortable using the new kit and that the instructions in the kit were hard to follow. That’s when Brattain rolled into action.
Knowing the advantages of the digital kit, the increased capability it provided, and why it was not being used, Brattain engaged the U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM) Technology Integration Branch at Fort Lee to develop an instructional video that demonstrates how to set-up and use the video borescope.
The instructional video has been so successful that the program manager’s office is including it with each video borescope that is issued to an Army unit. Additionally, CASCOM offers streaming and downloadable versions of the instructional video to common access card holders at: https://cascom.army.mil/g_staff/g3/TTD_downloads.htm#od. For the best operability, users should review the download/run instructions at the top of the webpage.
Thanks to Brattain, maintainers can borescope a gun tube in considerably less time, avoiding the 30 minutes of set-up time required for the older version. Additionally, photographs and video of the inside of the gun tube are provided electronically, precluding the manual documentation required by the M3 kit.
The instructional video will not only benefit the Army -- it will touch every branch of military service within the Department of Defense where gun tubes must be evaluated and serviced. Streamlining the gun tube evaluation process saves valuable resources, including time, manpower and money.
“I was only doing my job,” said Brattain, “but it is great to see this action through to the end.”
Brattain has since been selected for Warrant Officer Candidate School and looks forward to the additional duties and responsibilities he will have as an Ordnance Corps warrant officer.