The soldiers of Company B, 334th Brigade Support Battalion, Task Force Archer, operate a forward repair station on Bagram Air Field seven days a week to keep all the soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Task Force Red Bulls, which they are a part of, rolling.
“We provide support to the infantry, cavalry and all soldiers of the brigade making sure their vehicles, their weapons and their radios are running to the best of their ability, all the time,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Steven Agnitsch from Wyoming, Iowa, and the maintenance control noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the Company B forward repair station. “Let’s get it in, get it fixed and get it back to the soldiers - that’s how I run my shop.”
The station has a wheeled vehicle repair area for all vehicles from Mine Resistant Ambushed Protected vehicles to pick-up trucks used on Bagram. The repair station also has a metal fabrication shop and a communications repair area so maintainers can make repairs on all critical systems on the brigade’s vehicles.
“We support the whole brigade with any of its maintenance needs that may come up,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Chris Lindahl from Royal, Iowa, a wheeled vehicle mechanic with Company B. “Our job is pretty important [to the soldier in the field] ... we make sure that they have a quality piece of equipment to take outside the wire. Our mission is to make sure that the vehicle they’re driving is a reliable one and they have reliable communications so they can get back safe.”
“We have had a lot of days where we had 20-plus vehicles in here; it is pretty hectic,” said Lindahl. “A couple nights we have had to work pretty late, and the lights were out in the shop, so we had to run some drop cords to generators so we had lights in the shop. We had stuff that had to be done so we just adjusted fire and did what we had to do to get it finished.”
The soldiers who work at the repair station take pride in their job and understand the importance of their mission.
“I have always enjoyed being a mechanic helping the infantry and the Cavalry by keeping their equipment running at top speed, so they can keep on mission,” said Agnitsch. “It makes me feel good; I know they can do their job if I do mine.”
The other soldiers in the unit share the same sentiment.
“I have been fixing stuff my entire time in the military,” said U.S. Army Spc. Kevin Miller from Ankeny, Iowa, a mechanic with Company B. “I am just a simple mechanic, maintaining these trucks is what I do. If these trucks aren’t fully mission capable, then the other military personnel here, they can’t go out and do their jobs.”
The shop handles all types of repairs from full motor rebuilds to simple jobs called services. Services are fluid and air-filter changes coupled with quality assurance and quality control inspections preformed every 200 to 600 hours and once a year. These services are vital to assure vehicles are in proper working order, according to the maintainers.
“My job is a little monotonous at times but it is fun and important,” said Lindahl. “Some days we just do services, but others are challenging like when we get to do the big motor pullouts and assemblies. It has its moments and most of them are good.”
The mechanics and metal workers at Company B don’t just do this while deployed. Most will do the same job when they return to the United States; the experiences and knowledge they gain will follow them.
“Back home, I work as a mechanic instructor at the National Maintenance Training Center, Camp Dodge, Iowa. Here, I work on MRAPs doing everything I can to make sure that the trucks are fully mission capable and to make sure they are ready to rock and roll at any time,” said Miller.
Though it’s not glamorous and it’s not a typical Army job, Company B’s mission is an important one, according to the maintainers.
Article by Spc. James Wilton, Combined Joint Task Force 101