MOSUL, Iraq - Soldiers from the 215th Brigade Support Battalion "Blacksmiths", 1st Cavalry Division recently replaced a main fuel tank on a Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) 10-Ton, 2,500 gallon Tanker.

No one from the unit had ever replaced a main tank before.

The Ground Support Equipment section of Bravo Field Maintenance Company, 215th Brigade Support Battalion was responsible for the operation.

A fuel leak on the tanker was initially identified during routine unit dispatching procedures and the equipment was sent to the GSE section for further diagnosis. It was determined to be a crack in the pipe coming directly off the main tank. Due to safety requirements, the best course of action was to replace the main tank.

"Normally we would weld the crack but since we're deployed and don't have the capability to purge the fuel tank and make it safe enough to weld, the next best course of action was to order a whole new fuel tank," said Warrant Officer Lennon Raghunandan, GSE officer in charge.

It took about two and a half months, but the new tank finally came in and the Soldiers of the GSE were ready to get to work.

With careful thought and direct supervision, all the external storage and piping were removed. The next hurdle was all the plumbing under the tank that went to the distribution points on the back of the vehicle.

Once the tank was free of excess equipment and parts, the B FMC Recovery Section stepped in with a special mission recovery vehicle capable of lifting the fuel tank. The Recovery section provided smooth lift support for the removal of the old and emplacement of the new tank.

"It was critical to ensure that the fuel tank was level when it was being removed and installed and the Recovery section did a great job at it," said Raghunandan.

The final stage was to re-install all the under carriage plumbing. Getting the tank lined back in the exact spot in which all the plumbing and the mounting holes for the tank would all line up together proved to be a daunting task but the Soldiers of GSE completed the installation without issue.

The entire process took only 72 hours and the main tank swap was a successful first for the GSE section and the Bravo Field Maintenance Company. Just another 72 hours in the life of a Ground Support Equipment mechanic's life.

"All the Soldiers in the section were very happy after the mission was complete because they accomplished the task perfectly the first time they attempted it," said Raghunandan.

The B FMC 215th BSB, Ground Support Equipment section took over operations in Mosul, Iraq on Jan. 24, 2009. The GSE section consists of 11 Soldiers and is equipped with a basic load of tools along with one Forward Repair System (FRS), one Standard Automotive Tool Set (SATS), one contact truck, air conditioning service equipment and hose fabrication equipment.