If you think it takes a long time to get your car back from repairs at the garage, try waiting for a U.S. military truck to get fixed in Germany.
The repair backlog stretches seven to eight years at the Equipment Maintenance Center in Kaiserslautern, situated about 100 miles southwest of Frankfurt.Utah National Guard troops were called in recently to help catch up on the immense backlog and put in more than 5,000 hours of work rebuilding 10 large trucks during a three-week deployment that ended Saturday. The trucks were among thousands sitting in the center's salvage yard - unable to be repaired by soldiers in the units who routinely drive the trucks.
Involving National Guard troops in the overseas maintenance work is part of a new program, and members of the 115th Maintenance Company from Camp Williams were the guinea pigs. They will be followed by Guard troops from Texas, Kentucky, Oregon, Michigan and South Dakota.
"This was a good program," said Capt. Alan Braithwaite, commander of the 115th. He said the wide variety of work gave his troops an opportunity to work in either the primary or secondary wartime job they train for on weekends.
"The pressure was on us because of this pilot program," said Sgt. David Mitchell. "We got a real live mission to sink our teeth into."
A new facility dedicated Friday by the chief of the National Guard Bureau in Washington will help future units get the work done more efficiently.
Lt. Col. Michael J. Squier, the maintenance center commander, said the program still has a number of bugs that need to be worked out before it can function smoothly and effectively tackle almost a decade of work that has stacked up.
German civilians worked on the trucks until now. But the new program turns the maintenance facility over to the Guard and reserves. Maintenance units will routinely deploy to the facility about every three years. The Utah unit is tentatively scheduled to return in 1992.