PRINCE SULTAN AIR BASE, KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA --
When a vehicle breaks, long waits and costly repairs come to mind.
With the run that the 378th Expeditionary Logistic Readiness Squadron Vehicle Management is on, the 378th Air Expeditionary Wing can continue to operate without hesitation.
As the current rotation landed at Prince Sultan Air Base in June 2020, the mission capable rate was standing at 72%, and for the crew of mechanics coming in, that number just wouldn’t do.
“Since we got here in June, we boosted the mission capable rate (the percentage of vehicles that are in service) from 72% to 96% in less than four months,” said Master Sgt. Messinger, 378th ELRS Vehicle Management, superintendent. “Keeping the MC rate above the AFCENT standard of 85% ensures the base has the vehicle capabilities to respond to any scenario.”
Being in such an austere environment and having limited space does have an effect on how fast the 378th ELSR/VM can conduct maintenance and return vehicles to organizations on base.
“Unfortunately while we’re deployed, we don’t have the luxury of a quick trip to the local auto parts store,” said Messinger. “This means that when we have to order parts, we need to ensure our troubleshooting is on point. There is no greater disappointment than waiting weeks for a part that was not properly diagnosed.”
“Being deployed also allows us to explore creative solutions,” Messinger continued. “Since parts are not readily available, our technicians are expected to fabricate, repair, and rebuild components that would typically be replaced if we were operating at a stateside location. A vehicle or piece of equipment is not supporting the mission if it’s parked in our compound waiting for parts. I will do everything I can to return the asset back to the user in a safe and serviceable condition and in the shortest time possible.”
With the MC rate of 96%, the 378th ELRS/VM can brag about being one of the best in the region, but it’s more than pride. The mission capable rate they are providing keeps the base operational and maintains the 378th AEW as a key role of deterrence and sustainment in the region.
“The success of vehicle management and our ability to provide a safe and reliable fleet is extremely important to the base as vehicles impact every unit’s ability to do their job,” said Senior Master Sgt. Nichols, 378th ELRS VM flight chief. “Nothing would move or get done without vehicles – Fuel couldn’t be delivered to aircraft, emergency services would stop, critical cargo couldn’t be transported, construction and base maintenance would come to a halt. Bottom line, this team and how they perform affects everyone on base because the 378th AEW’s mission wouldn’t happen without vehicles and the technicians that keep them in service.”
Even through long hours in the heat, sand and wind, these mechanics continue to provide a vital support role to the base and every operation on base. They truly are the best mechanics around and they will work on any vehicle the base throws at them and do it with a big smile with oil on their hands.
“My team is made out of a bunch of great Airmen from several different bases,” finished Messinger. “Each one brings their own strength to vehicle management. It has been a true motivation boost watching our line of broken vehicles dwindle down to next to nothing and knowing that we accomplished great things working as a team.”