by Don Mumma
FORT A.P. HILL, Va. � Soldiers deploying these days are taking along more than just their weapons, equipment and vehicles. They�re also packing up Department of the Army civilians to help them operate, maintain and repair it all.
Logistics-assistance representatives are there, providing help to soldiers and their commanders.
Grecian Firebolt was no exception. The joint, multicomponent communications exercise was held here and at installations across the United States, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Japan and Korea June 15-30.
Along with the Signal soldiers were LARs.
Each weapon system available to soldiers is developed and fielded by one of Army Materiel Command�s subordinate units. For example, most communications equipment originates at Communications-Electronics Command. Vehicles, trailers and other wheeled equipment comes from Tank and Automotive Command.
TACOM and CECOM place LARs at almost every Army post to support the soldiers, commanders and their equipment.
These LARs work for an AMC logistics-assistance officer and provide technical assistance, supply assistance, on-the-job training and sometimes formal classroom training on weapon systems.
At Grecian Firebolt, there were 12 CECOM and one TACOM LARs, along with one LAO supporting the exercise.
CECOM LARs provide support on all communications equipment, power generators and environmental-control units involved in the exercise. On call and at their locations, they make recommendations to all command levels to improve the communications network.
Also, when soldiers can�t troubleshoot a particular communications network, LARs are called in to assist with the problem. At the most elementary level � the field Signal site � LARs provide instruction on how to troubleshoot and repair equipment so the next time soldiers will be able to accomplish the mission without assistance.
According to one LAR, their goal is to work themselves out of a job. Of course, equipment readiness is a very important aspect. However, without a technically proficient soldier operating the equipment, even readiness has its limitations.
To that end, LARs visit sites and talk with soldiers to find out if they�re having problems. Many times, major communications outages are prevented from this type of site visit.
TACOM LARs provide commanders and soldiers in the field logistical support and training on all TACOM-related equipment. They monitor fleet performance and report maintenance problems to TACOM headquarters.
Also, they monitor incoming reports of "not mission capable" equipment and provide the technical support and diagnostic training necessary to change that status to "fully mission capable."
Mr. Mumma is a LAR assigned to CECOM and working at Fort Gordon, Ga.
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Army Communicator is part of Regimental Division, a division of Office Chief of Signal.