By Jim Hinnant, 401st Army Field Support BrigadeMay 1, 2008
CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, Qatar Ac"a,! Posters showing a battle-weary combat Soldier adorn the walls of the Stryker Battle Damage Repair Facility here. "Remember Ac"a,! everything we do affects this man. He and his buddies will be the first to pay for our mistakes," the posters warn.
The team of dedicated contractors working here in support of 1st Battalion, 401st Army Field Support Brigade has worked with that thought constantly in mind, says Tim Armstrong, Qatar site manager for General Dynamics Land Systems Division.
"As of April 19th, we have returned 123 Stryker Combat Vehicles, each with varying degrees of battle damage, to service with units in Iraq," said Armstrong.
Walk the floor of the repair facility, crowded with vehicles in various stages of work, and it quickly becomes clear that more than just repair work is done here.
Webster's New World College Dictionary defines the term refurbish as "to brighten, freshen or polish up again."
That is the state these vehicles are in when they leave Qatar.
In fact, according to Armstrong, Strykers leaving here are the equal of vehicles coming off the production facility floor at Anniston Army Depot. "When we are finished, Soldiers get a vehicle and have no idea that it has been damaged (in combat)," said Armstrong. "That's psychologically important."
A lot of work goes into making sure vehicles go out of the SBDRF in near-showroom condition, said Armstrong.
Damaged Stryker vehicles undergo a limited technical inspection in Iraq prior to shipment to Qatar, so the team here knows generally what will need to be done for each vehicle well before it arrives.
"There's not a lot of information on the "5W's" of the damage. We don't focus on that Ac"a,! we focus on the repairs needed," says Armstrong.
A healthy parts supply, with approximately 5,000 line items and 1500 lines of bench stock on hand makes sure the work goes smoothly and with a minimum of disruption to parts outages.
There is also obvious attention to efficiency. According to Armstrong, where possible the components from a vehicle are removed, refurbished and returned to the same vehicle.
Quality control checks are performed on each vehicle throughout the repair process; these checks are heaviest in the "final assembly" phase where the interior of each receives final touches, to include fresh paint and protective plastic on the deck.
In final assembly, the power pack is reinstalled, all systems are checked and the vehicle is finally rolled out for a road test and installation of slat armor.
The GDLSD team's operation is at steady state here. In fact, during the visit for this story, four "June assembly" vehicles were already in the pre-assembly phase.
Current production calls for six SCVs to leave the repair facility each month, but there is discussion of a possible increase, according to members of the 1st Battalion staff.
An interesting, albeit sobering, event occurs occasionally, when a vehicle that has been through the program shows up here again for repair - giving the team here the chance to do a sort of "after-action" quality check.
"Our guys get to see the work they have done that has gone through the fight," said Armstrong. "They can see how their work held up."
"This is personal," he said. "They spend so much time on each Stryker that the vehicle takes on a personality of its own...some guys even name them."