Thursday, October 2, 2008

Motor Pool Soldiers Keep the Infantry Fighting

-- Spc. Warren W. Wright, Jr.

JOINT MULTINATIONAL READINESS CENTER, Germany – Stryker Soldiers are patrolling a potentially hostile area in their signature combat vehicles. The team receives hostile contact and the infantrymen pile out the back and take cover while the Stryker’s mounted weapons system puts rounds on target.

The infantrymen’s job is to train for situations like this, but if it wasn’t for the Soldiers who operate behind the scenes, the infantrymen would have no armored vehicles to ride into combat or a weapons system capable of providing devastating cover fire.

Soldiers like Spc. Michael P. Scharfenberg, a small arms repairer, and Spc. Charles C. Magill, a mechanic, both from Company B, 296th Brigade Support Battalion “Black Knights,” are responsible for keeping the vehicles running and the weapons firing so that the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division can complete their missions and bring their Soldiers home safe.

Scharfenberg and Magill are supporting the training at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center near Hohenfels, Germany, during Cooperative Spirit 2008, which is a multinational combat training center rotation intended to test interoperability among the American, British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand armies.

Magill is able to work on a variety of vehicles due to the Army’s use of interchangeable parts that can be swapped out with any number of various vehicles, he said. Mechanics can work on anything from high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles to wreckers or the brigade’s signature Stryker combat vehicles.

A mechanic’s job is extremely important, added Magill. If it wasn’t for the hard work and dedication of the mechanics in the motor pool, the Strykers and all the other vehicles operated by the Stryker brigade wouldn’t be able to function.

Also working with the “Black Knights” are the weapons repairers. The Strykers have a vast arrangement of weapons systems and sub-systems that must be maintained, said Scharfenberg.

“Before there were trucks, there were guns,” Scharfenberg said proudly. If the small arms repairers like Scharfenberg do not maintain and repair the weapons systems on the Stryker, the Soldiers inside the vehicle would lose invaluable tools needed for the fight.

Interoperability, or the ability of coalition forces to train and operate effectively together, is the main reason for coming together during Cooperative Spirit 2008, however, none of this would be possible without the support of Soldiers like Scharfenberg and Magill.

“If something breaks, you have to have someone available to fix it,” said Spc. Frank J. Nehs, a rifleman from Company A, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment. “I just fight, and without them (the support element), I can’t fight.”

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