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Mechanics support warfighter exercise

By Spc. Avery Cunningham | 172nd Public Affairs Detachment | June 10, 2017

FORT DRUM, N.Y. — Two U.S. Soldier Mechanics with Echo Company, 186th Brigade Support Battalion, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain), Spc. Kale Raymond, a power-generation equipment repairer, and Spc. Kyle Spaulding, a wheeled vehicle mechanic, worked behind the scenes to support the brigade’s warfighter exercise, a tactical operations drill designed to train brigade staff. In addition to supporting the exercise as the only mechanics, the two provided support for the advanced echelons (ADVON) in their battalion.

“The first issue was getting generators running in parallel,” said Spaulding “The hardest part was getting them set up and getting them to run side-by-side simultaneously so they can share a load.”

The generators supply power to the Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelters (DRASH), where brigade Soldiers are running simulations on Command Post of the Future systems, a tactical operations software system that allows commanders to maintain oversight of the battlefield and communicate with subordinates and peers.

“Without those generators they wouldn’t be able to sustain their operations, run their CPOF systems, and be involved in the exercise, so it’s really been paramount to have these guys here,” said 1st Lt. Jonathan Vinson, E Co., 186th BSB.

The mechanics taught Soldiers how to properly operate the generators at the warfighter, while still providing ample support for any issues from their shop equipment contact maintenance truck, a service station on wheels that gives the crew the ability to do minor repairs.

“They have a wealth of knowledge and all the units have been really receptive to listening to what they have to say and tasking us like crazy,” said Vinson. “These guys have been working early to late. Sometimes they’re racked out for the night, and they get a call and are right back in their contact truck.”

The knowledge they draw upon comes from years of experience maintaining equipment in the military. Raymond served with the Marines for more than four years as a generator mechanic before continuing his service in the Guard.

“I have a lot of experience actually working on the generators,” said Raymond. “It helps me identify the faults a lot quicker, so we can get the parts and get the generator fixed and running again.”

In addition to Spaulding's service in the National Guard, he has worked as a mechanic in the civilian world working on high-end cars.

“I’ve been in the Guard for seven years as a 91 bravo (wheeled vehicle mechanic),” said Spaulding. “In the civilian-world I was a full-time mechanic and that’s helped me figure out the little issues.”

Raymond and Spaulding have the knowledge and tools to do repairs, but not all the parts. The Soldiers had to locate a military supply point to get the necessary components to work as mechanics to fix various trucks and generators entrusted to them.

“We linked up with the New York Army National Guard. They have a hard structure here, MATES, (Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site), and we were able to maneuver money and draw parts from them,” said Vinson. “They’ve been really helpful. Yesterday we were able to draw everything we needed up to date, and we’ll continue to work with them.”

It’s been a challenge for the Soldiers, but they’ve had support from their leadership.

“A lot of help that we’ve overcome [challenges] with is from Lt. Vinson, he’s given us a lot of support on how to get parts and make stuff happen that we can’t figure out,” said Spaulding. “If he can’t help us out we go to a local tent and look for some sort of help.”

The event is not just a learning and training opportunity for the participants in the warfighter. It offers the support personnel a chance to improve their own standard operating procedures and test what works and doesn’t.

“We’re trying to refine what we do for our sustainment, what we come to these trainings with, and also identify that it’s going to be an ongoing challenge when you have multiple phases of operations without your entire unit,” said Vinson.

The entire unit, Echo Company, will conduct its own annual training separate from the warfighter exercise. In the meantime the two mechanics are working hard to support the brigade around the clock.