JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD - The United States defense budget is on the chopping block, leaving the military to reduce spending and tighten Uncle Sam's belt a notch.

The Command Maintenance Evaluation and Training team, whose members have more than 360 years of combined military service, are doing their part by helping the Army save money at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. In years past, the team focused on command supply discipline, emphasizing property accountability. This year they transitioned to a program that enforces supply and maintenance discipline and allows them to conduct unit evaluations, saving the Army even more money.

The team wears many hats as they coach, teach and mentor units on the proper maintenance of equipment and teach the regulations regarding property accountability. They evaluate a unit's supply discipline by checking their records and documentation, something COMET Team Chief Eric Ragland of Vallejo, Calif., refers to as "managing the Army's checkbook."

"It allows us to actually go down to the units and do evaluations," said Ragland, who teaches units the proper procedures in accordance with the regulations of JBLM and the Army. "It will allow us to have supply accountability. The Army in the long run will save a whole lot of money."

Reducing spending through maintenance and supply accountability is another step in the Army's transition to a "back to the basics" approach. Given the high operational pace of a wartime Army, COMET team members realize the Army needs to move back to move forward.

"As an Army we've got to go back to the basics," said Kimberlee Aiello of Cranston, R.I., commander of the 56th Multifunctional Medical Battalion. "We're moving back to the Army I grew up in, where individuals are held accountable."

Aiello requested the services of the COMET Team to do a pre-evaluation on her battalion.

"We found that a lot of our command teams are not comfortable or familiar with the regulatory requirements related to property," said Aiello. "They have lived in an Army whereby if something was lost, it was just bought."

The COMET team offers courtesy evaluations designed to fix any shortcomings before the final evaluation. Soldiers took a "regulations on property accountability" class prior to the pre-evaluations and only 22 percent passed. They retook the class after the pre-evaluations, which resulted in a 94 percent pass rate.

"There's going to be less spending because we're teaching people how to do it right and they are learning that they are going to live in a constrained environment," said Aiello, who anticipates savings due to not losing equipment.

The COMET Team is focused on getting units up to the Army standard and meeting the required regulations, so missing equipment going unaccounted for is a thing of the past.

"They are enablers for us to be successful to get back to the basics and do what's right," said Aiello, 56th commander.