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Resetting the FMTV

The Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command Reset Program refurbishes FMTV trucks returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Family of medium tactical vehicles (FMTV) trucks serve as the prime transporters of Soldiers and equipment. These wheeled vehicles are well built, reliable, and capable of meeting the needs of the combat Soldier in any environment. FMTV variants provide a wide array of capabilities, including recovering vehicles and weapon systems; hauling earthmoving equipment, soils, and aggregates; and transporting troops and supplies. The FMTV chassis also serves as the platform for weapon systems such as the High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).

The FMTV has been subjected to extreme battlefield tests by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. The trucks are used daily to conduct resupply, recovery, and other combat support missions. During these operations, the vehicles are subjected to intense heat, windstorms, rocket-propelled grenades, controlled improvised explosive devices, and small arms fire. FMTV trucks have far exceeded expectations and have maintained the highest readiness rate of any vehicles in the Army’s fleets.

Redeploying Vehicles

Before units redeploy to their home stations, they conduct standard preventive maintenance checks and services on their vehicles to determine what repairs are needed to return the vehicles to a state of operational readiness. Although many Army installations have direct and general support maintenance service capabilities, redeploying units have found that damage to the vehicles caused by combat and extended use often requires depot-level repairs, such as replacing bent frame rails, completely rebuilding cabs, and overhauling engines and power train components.

Reset Program

The need for depot-level repair of returning vehicles led to the development of the Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) Reset Program. A $16.9 million contract with Stewart & Stevenson Tactical Vehicle Systems, Limited Partnership (TVS), requires the company, the original equipment manufacturer, to overhaul and refurbish selected vehicles to their original condition within 100 days of their arrival at the FMTV reset facility. The short turnaround time allows Army units to regain their equipment quickly and restore their units to a deployable status.

Battle-worn and damaged trucks began arriving at the TVS facility in Sealy, Texas, during late winter of 2003 and early spring of 2004. (Items that could be replaced at the unit level, such as seats, doors, and mirrors, had been replaced by the unit before the vehicle was sent to reset.) Joint inspections were conducted by the contractor and the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) quality assurance representative, parts were ordered, and the teardown process began. As more trucks arrived, the lists of needed items were revised. Representatives from the TACOM Reset Program Office, the office of the TVS Project Manager, and DCMA conducted weekly program-update meetings to ensure the Reset Program’s effectiveness.

Repair Process

The initial assessment of the first 40 trucks found major damage to frame rails and cabs and missing or damaged transmissions, engines, and axles. TVS assembled a select group of mechanics and designated a functional work area for inspecting, tearing down, and rebuilding the trucks. Although the work process was slow at first, it gained momentum, and the trucks were returned by the required deadline.

The contract required that certain items, including starters, air compressors, hydraulic fittings, radiators, shock absorbers, seals, wiper blades, mud flaps, and odometers, be replaced on all trucks. Engines, transmissions, transfer cases, and differentials were rebuilt as needed, and tires were replaced when necessary. Finally, all trucks were freshly painted.

At the FMTV reset facility, the damaged trucks were disassembled and repaired or rebuilt at 10 workstations to make maximum use of time, support equipment, and manpower. The final assembly progressively gained speed as the flow of vehicles increased. The technical competence of the mechanics and a long company history of manufacturing tactical vehicles greatly enhanced the process. As soon as the repairs were complete, the DCMA representative, a TVS representative, and the Program Manager’s staff prepared documentation to return the trucks to their units.

The Reset Program results have been tremendous. TVS has been able to rebuild and return all of the reset trucks on time or ahead of schedule. The units received like-new vehicles for 29 to 61 percent ($72,042 to $198,166) less than the price of a new vehicle, depending on the truck variant.

Gilbert J. Duran is the Contract Administrator for the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles Reset Program at Defense Contract Management Agency-Stewart & Stevenson, Sealy, Texas. He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a master’s degree in administration from Incarnate Word University in Texas.