KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany –
The transport and delivery of supplies, ammunition, water and food is a critical component of any military operation. And keeping those trucks, tactical vehicles and equipment pieces operational is extremely important.
To assist with doing so, the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command employs Logistics Assistance Representatives who act as liaisons between the item managers and equipment specialists back at TACOM headquarters in Michigan and the Soldiers and leaders in the field.
Russ Kropp is one of those TACOM LARs and is stationed in Germany. As a Combat Support and Combat Service Support LAR assigned to the 405th Army Field Support Brigade’s Army Field Support Battalion-Germany, he helps multiple Army units across Germany with troubleshooting mechanical problems and resolving issues affecting multiple platforms, equipment types and wheeled vehicles.
Kropp’s specialty lies mainly with the repair and maintenance of tactical vehicles, trailers, line-haul trucks, 5-ton trucks, construction equipment like dozers, graders and backhoes, containerized kitchens and mobile kitchen trailers.
But he also acts as a liaison. He provides commanders with critical information regarding systemic problems and issues. He provides safety of use messages and maintenance advisory updates to the units. He acts as a conduit between the operators on the ground and the item managers at the headquarters. And he teaches, trains and coaches Soldiers.
“I provide the proper manuals and information, and I assist the Soldiers with troubleshooting. If it’s more complicated, I often reach back to the item managers and the equipment specialists, who may have additional information and knowledge not readily available in the field. Mostly, I teach and train,” said Kropp, who has served as a LAR for 16 years.
Kropp, who has over 30 years of military and civilian service and four more as a contractor, said his primary job as a LAR is to provide training on system operations, troubleshooting and repair.
“In a way, my job is to actually try and work myself out of a job,” said Kropp, who worked as a wheeled vehicle mechanic when he was a Soldier. “The more I can teach these Soldiers – the smarter these Soldiers get – the less demand for contractors, field service representatives and LARs.”
And Kropp said a lot of times contractors, FSRs and LARs aren’t immediately available when a Soldier encounters a critical issue.
“They need to be able to troubleshoot the issue they’re encountering with whatever knowledge and equipment they have,” Kropp said. “If they have the maintenance support device, then they can use it. But if all they have is a multimeter, they should know alternative methods of troubleshooting the issue.”
“Helping the Soldiers and making them self-sufficient so they can troubleshoot and analyze issues on their own – helping them work smarter – that’s what I enjoy about my job,” he said.
Logistics Assistance Representative: LARs, are Army civilians serving in motor pools, hangars, maintenance shops, and offices around the world. Highly trained, they bring more than two dozen specialty skills to Army equipment readiness requirements. They are all part of the U.S. Army Sustainment Command’s global network of Army Field Support Brigades and are linked to every echelon of the Army in the field. The 405th AFSB has several LARs with multiple specialties assigned across Europe.
Tank-automotive and Armaments Command: TACOM is a major subordinate command of U.S. Army Materiel Command. TACOM manages the Army's ground equipment supply chain, which constitutes about 60 percent of the Army's total equipment. The TACOM workforce includes highly skilled and uniquely qualified professionals, from engineers and industrial artisans to senior logisticians and business analysts. A largely civilian workforce, TACOM is critical to building Army readiness around the world. If a Soldier drives it, shoots it, wears it or eats it – TACOM sustains it.
405th Army Field Support Brigade: The 405th AFSB is assigned to ASC and under the operational control of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, U.S. Army Europe and Africa. The brigade is headquartered in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and provides materiel enterprise support to U.S. Forces throughout Europe and Africa – providing theater sustainment logistics; synchronizing acquisition, logistics and technology; and leveraging AMC’s materiel enterprise to support joint forces. For more information on the 405th AFSB, visit the official website at www.afsbeurope.army.mil and the official Facebook site at www.facebook.com/405thAFSB.