Published: Friday, 18 January 2008 05:00
Written by Ann Roosevelt
More than 700 individual orders were generated for work on General Lee, while the average Stryker ticks off 300-400 orders each. Additionally, while the mast assembly had no visible damage, it was sent back to its vendor for testing. General Lee needed more parts than the average because it is a low-density vehicle and some parts were ‘harvested’ for other needs as it made its way to ANAD.
General Lee, and all other Strykers in any of 10 variants, are owned by the Army and managed cradle-to-grave by the Program Manager Stryker Brigade Combat Team. General Dynamics provides cradle-to-grave support.
Behind GD are more than 800 vendors supporting all Stryker parts.
PM Stryker closely watches all activities. There is a continuous feedback and improvement process used on all phases of the Stryker repair and logistics effort, the office said. Changes and adjustments are routinely incorporated as the program gathers more data and experience.
“The Stryker Repair Program plays an important role in Stryker vehicle management efforts and has been vital in sustaining the fleet,” the office told Defense Daily. Quick repair turnarounds are required to maintain a ready-to-fight Stryker fleet for the Stryker brigades.
“General Lee will receive engineer changes, software upgrades and deployment packages or kits that provide updated capabilities,” the office said. “Vehicles are brought up to a common configuration as close as possible to the latest production configuration. No two vehicles receive the exact level of repair and each effort is customized and concentrated on the area of damage, and therefore not all the components need to be replaced.”
The wheeled, armored anti-tank Stryker is known to the depot as General Lee, the nickname bestowed by its previous unit–the 3rd Brigade, A Company, 52nd Infantry based at Ft. Lewis, Wash. The Stryker carried the crew safely through several damaging roadside bomb attacks before being declared a battle loss April 16, 2007 and returned to the United States for reset ( Defense Daily, Sept. 24, 2007).
The Stryker community and beyond knows General Lee through writer Michael Yon’s dispatch titled “Superman,” which recounts unit activity where General Lee carried its soldiers on their duties virtually unscathed by roadside bombs. Michael Yon is a writer, photographer and former Green Beret who. was embedded in Iraq for nine months in 2005. He returned to Iraq in 2007 to continue reporting on the war. He is entirely reader supported and publishes his work at http://www.michaelyon-online.com.
General Lee, declared a battle loss, traveled by land and sea to ANAD, where it went through much the same process as every other vehicle. ANAD overhauls or resets around 100-150 vehicles a month.
The Army calls returning damaged equipment to like-new condition reset, which returns a vehicle to a unit ready to go.
“Frankly, my view is the difference between a hollow army and an army that can sustain itself in a period of persistent conflict is reset,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey said in a state-of-the-Army speech Oct. 8.
Last year Congress provided $17 billion for reset “that reversed the downward spiral in our ability to reset ourselves,” Casey said. The Army estimates reset to cost $13 billion per year for a 15 brigade-size force for as long as the war lasts and two years beyond that.
First fielded in 2002, Stryker vehicles usage rates are four times higher than those of the Army’s tanks and Bradley Fighting vehicles, a September Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on Army reset said. Strykers are operating at about 1,200 miles-per-month (MPM) vs. 220 MPM in peacetime.
ANAD is the only Army depot able to do maintenance on both heavy and light-tracked combat vehicles and their components. Additionally, ANAD is the Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence (CITE) for wheeled and tracked Combat Vehicles–except Bradley.
Established in 1941, ANAD sprawls over 25 square miles, with more than 1,770 buildings and structures. More than 6,700 people move around on 244 miles of road, oversee 42 miles of railroad all contained by 93 miles of fence and run under a $1.1 billion operating budget. ANAD’s chain of command runs up through TACOM Life Cycle Management Command to Army Materiel Command.
Additionally, ANAD personnel serve around the world, directly supporting warfighters.
Under a partnership agreement between ANAD and General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS), Stryker vehicle production began April 1, 2001. In October 2006 the depot was designated the Army’s organic depot maintenance facility for the Stryker Family of Vehicles.
ANAD has a dedicated Stryker Reset facility, where all Stryker damages are assessed and then sent through the repair process as required per assessment. Some of the work, such as weld repair and painting, is done in other buildings.
Team Anniston, some 55 ANAD employees and 17 General Dynamics employees, work together on two shifts in the facility.
In ANAD terms, General Lee–or ATGM 0086 on the official paperwork– was a November production vehicle along with four other battle damaged vehicles.
As each vehicle arrives, it is added to ANAD’s schedule by the Program Management Specialist (PMS), ANAD told Defense Daily. After arrival, General Lee moved to a holding lot awaiting inspection before actually being inducted into the process.
Next, the Limited Technical Inspection (LTI) phase captures each damaged item. “This process includes reviewing the structural assessment paperwork in order to determine specific welding requirements, as well as going through the vehicle visually evaluating the interior damage,” an ANAD spokesman said.
Meanwhile, even before General Lee left Kuwait, an in-country inspection was conducted, including structural analysis. This allowed advance ordering or any needed structural components. On average, the inspection captures a certain percentage of the damaged items, which are then ordered and usually arrive at ANAD before the vehicle does.
GDLS takes damaged items and provides ANAD a replacement component, which is either new or repaired. There are a finite number of components on the vehicle that are authorized to be repaired and reutilized. Anything else damaged is replaced with a new part.
This is the first time General Lee has been back to ANAD since it was built.
Strykers are assembled with parts from Canada and Lima, Ohio, at ANAD. Lima makes upper hulls, ships them to Canada, which welds them to lower hull and then ships the structure to Anniston for assembly into the full Stryker vehicle, in General Lee’s case, an anti-tank variant. After that Limited Technical Assessment, ATGM 0086 moved through the repair process, which involves taking the vehicle apart, weld repair, prime paint, installing the suspension, putting it all back together, new paint, inspection, a final acceptance, and then: shipment to a new unit.
Team Anniston uses a spreadsheet containing a replacement parts list for each vehicle. The team also orders parts after the LTI, which are shipped in from their inventory control points. GDLS maintains a store of common replaceable items on hand–such as power packs. However, some damaged items must be returned to the vendor for repair and return, the company told Defense Daily.
As each component on the checklist is installed, the Heavy Mobile Equipment Repairer signs off the list. This data along with the Structural Assessments are kept on file for every vehicle. As an Anti-Tank variant, General Lee gets specific support for its TOW missile Modified Improved Target Acquisition System (MITAS) from Raytheon [RTN]. GD keeps track of its support for General Lee and all other Strykers through a system called Data Management Information System (DMIS).
Using DMIS, GD orders and tracks spare parts status, vehicle readiness, warranty, configuration, maintenance repairs, retrograde and many other logistics data points, a spokeswoman said. Most parts come off the shelf. Replacements are reordered as needed.
As vehicles are combat damaged, like General Lee, those parts also are ordered using DMIS. Based on orders, backlog and spares availability, GDLS stages parts in Auburn, Wash., in kit form, if possible. Then, they are shipped to the repair sites. Additionally, each repair site has stocks of the most common, high failure items. A team from the spares groups in Shelby, Mich., and London, Ontario, manages and oversees the spares movement and work shortages items.
However, unique variants such as ATGM 0086 require more intensive management because there are fewer of them with consequent higher costs and longer lead times.
For ANAD, the repair cycle times for battle-damaged vehicles vary between 45 days to 120 days, depending on the level of damage.
Once General Lee–or any other vehicles–are completed, they are filled with basic issue items from the GDLS TPF organization, de-processed at Fort Lewis, Wash., and either issued to a new brigade or shipped back to theater to Balad to re-enter the ready-to-fight fleet.
GD’s DMIS documents each stage of the process and tracked and reported in real time to the government for total asset visibility of the down components and the end item.
DMIS orders are placed in real time–instantaneously–via the Tachyon systems linked to a secure network, GD SAID. “This real time visibility allows for advance planning and responsive support to the system.”
Basically, any item that is not damaged beyond the economic value of a new item can and will be repaired either on site in the field, or at a forward repair site or at the vendor’s location.
GDLS has some 20,500 square feet of storage capability in five separate buildings at ANAD. The company is now ramping up for a planned stockage of about 1,600 lines. The GD facility in Qatar stocks a little over 2,200 lines.
When General Lee rolls out of the reset facility at ANAD, it’s lifetime paperwork on AGTM 0086 will be larger. The “jacket,” or folder, for each vehicle contains the disposition instructions from the government, some four to five pages. There’s Attachment A, a list of shortages, if any. GD says the last nine vehicles through had no shortages to list. Then there are the Engineer Change Accomplishment Records (ECAR) listing all upgrades done to each vehicle. This adds another two to four pages. The LTI comprises 18 pages. A 2404 accompanies the LTI annotating each fault on the vehicle. This adds another 20-plus pages. And a Snag Sheet. This is the vehicle repair instructions from General Dynamics Structural Engineering, detailing repair procedures. Jackets run 3/4 of an inch to an inch thick on average. All of this and more thickens the jaket as the vehicles move through their life cycle.
Next on the General Lee agenda: direction from the PM SBCT to prepare ATGM0086 for shipment. But before General Lee or any other Stryker leaves ANAD, it will be restored and inspected to the Army’s required standard.
[Editor’s note: This story is the second installment of a series on the General Lee and Reset. ©2008 Access Intelligence LLC. Reprinted with permission.]
Read Superman here
Watch the videoclip from that dispatch here.
Read the first part in this series on the reset of the General Lee Stryker here.