Aiming to enhance operational efficiency and resource allocation, the United States Army recently made sweeping changes to its maintenance services for weapons and vehicles.

The service has replaced its conventional practice of conducting maintenance every six months, regardless of the actual need, with a usage-based maintenance system. This shift in approach, proposed by Army Chief of Staff General Randy A. George, is expected to revolutionize how the Army maintains its extensive fleet of vehicles and weapons.

Current Maintenance Practices

Under the current rules, most of the Army’s vehicles, including military trucks, undergo maintenance every six months, irrespective of their usage. This means a vehicle may be subjected to a full-service kit, complete with a new air filter, engine oil, and spare parts, even if it has hardly been used.

As US Army warrant officer Robert Lakes aptly put it, cited by Task & Purpose:

“We may service a vehicle that has gone [only] 100 miles in a year. The common-sense approach is, I wouldn’t do that to my personal vehicle, so why am I wasting resources doing that to our military fleet?”

This prevailing approach, while well-intentioned, has led to resource inefficiencies and unnecessary expenditure. It has raised questions about the prudence of maintaining vehicles and equipment that have seen minimal use, often with little to no wear and tear.

Bradley routine maintenance
A Soldier conducts routine maintenance on M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle at the motor pool (Image source: DVIDS)

The Call for Change

The need for a change in maintenance practices became apparent when Gen. George addressed the issue at this year’s Association of the US Army (AUSA) conference. The Army Chief of Staff minced no words, pointing out that the current system of “unnecessary maintenance” is not only costing the Army a substantial amount of money but also consuming “632 man-years of labor” annually.

The implications of this are far-reaching. It drains financial resources and takes away valuable time that could be better utilized for training and the personal lives of Soldiers. This, in essence, is inefficient and unsustainable.