OPW key to retaining mechanics


FORT MCCOY, Wis. A good technique for maintaining a US Army Reserve Soldier in an infantry military career specialty is to ensure that during a battle rally or annual training, he fires his assigned weapon at range and engages “opposing forces” as much as possible using the blanks in his weapon. In the case of a soldier who has a combat engineer MOS, his command will make sure that he is able to blow things up or break through obstacles in many ways.

The Platinum Wrench operation held at the 88th Readiness Division’s tow yard here in the spring and summer is a tool to retain soldiers in the professional disciplines of mechanics. OPW, which has trained 239 service members this fiscal year, provides mechanics in a division footprint that spans 19 states with an opportunity to be trained by top civilian contractors in their skills. These soldiers can repair anything from vehicles that broke down en route to Fort McCoy to vehicles that broke down in the field during the unit’s AT.

Comments from soldiers involved in OPW such as “wonderful,” “great learning experience,” “I really do my job which makes me excited” and “would highly recommend” are as popular as a grease-covered mechanic uniform by the end of the day.

Spc. Best of all, Joshua Kinnear who has been assigned to the 996th Engineer Company, 416th to lead theater engineer and is based in Milwaukee for the past six years said, “Personally, I wish this course had offered me an additional 1,000 ATs before. It could have been better. So much, and I would have been so much better than I am now.”

Knier, who works on equipment for a large farm tool dealer and is among the company’s construction equipment repairers, also had the opportunity during OPW to impart his knowledge to inexperienced mechanics like Spc. Calvin Dixon, wheeled vehicle mechanic.

Dixon is not as mechanical as a civilian. “I work in rally, so doing my MOS while I’m in the army is great,” said Dixon, who has been in the reserve for two and a half years. “I would definitely recommend the program.”

Sgt. Zachary Anderson, a platoon sergeant and construction equipment repairman, noted that he had not “turned the wrenches” in his nine years as an Army reservist. “This is a great opportunity to get out and run some wrenches. I highly recommend this software to anyone out and any maintenance teams. I have never done my job.”

Despite not doing his job for the first nine years of his life, Anderson, a Milwaukee-area deputy sheriff, still extends his enlistment. It’s a good bet after OPW, he’s glad he made the decision to continue serving his country.

The highlight, he said, is that maintenance soldiers don’t always have to be in the field. “We can be here and really do our jobs for once,” he said, pointing to the vehicles in the pits.

Dozens of company soldiers worked on three Humvees, four medium light tactical vehicles, and one dump truck. Annual services of troubleshooting and repairs represent tasks.
Casey Harp, Logistics Management Specialist at Draw Yard, said the operation also provides the opportunity for soldiers to be in charge of managing a maintenance facility that would be like a civilian auto repair shop for example. “Some work orders required soldiers to go through the entire process of repairing breakdowns, searching for parts and ordering replacement parts,” Harp said.

Harp said he couldn’t say how many soldiers told him how great the OPW was. He cited an example of how most maintenance departments in a unit are assigned escort duty in a forward operating base or logistics support areas in the installation during annual training.

“They want their MOS done and they want to get dirty and fix things,” Harp said.

Kinnear said the program is now giving him “that extra push in life, that motivation” when asked if OPW would help him stay in reserve.

Dixon admitted that his previous experience as a reservist had been “a lot of downtime.” Dixon said with a broad grin, but I’d be excited if we’d get more things like this.

When asked if he knew that being able to train his mechanical skills in programs like OPW in the future would help him stay in reserve, he replied, “Oh yeah.”

“Really, the program is a win, a win for the army and should be used as much as possible to keep the army’s fleet and its combat commanders ready,” said Harp. The military needs well-trained and knowledgeable mechanics with real experience in maintaining equipment. Then we hope they fix problems before they become catastrophic for their unit’s mission and equipment.”

Appointment booked: 08.24.2022
Announcement date: 08.30.2022 16:35
Story ID: 428345
Site: Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, United States

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