Motor Transport in Military Operations
- Transportation Meeting Paper
CONSIDERATION of motor-transport maintenance in military operations requires a general conception of the national military organization for war. This the author outlines, describing the theater of war, its subdivisions, the zone of the interior, communications and combat zones, and the general character-commercial or military-of motor transportation in each zone. The Quartermaster General's responsibility, and the need for centralizing control of motor transport under his direction as provided in the National Defense Act, is indicated.
Maintenance personnel, tool and shop equipment, supplies and various functions are divided into five groups called “echelons,” a military term used to designate the groupings of troops, supplies, functions and military command from front to rear of an army. The operation of maintenance in the five echelons is described in detail, the echelons of maintenance being based upon the unit-repair and unit-replacement system in which a physical-and usually a geographical-separation of the function of repair from the function of replacement is emphasized. Hence, the time that vehicles are kept out of productive operation on the one hand and the interference of vehicle operators with shop management and production on the other hand are minimized. The dissipation and waste of spare parts incident to the old system of “vehicle repair and overhaul” are avoided by maintaining a well-balanced reserve of spare unit-assemblies in unit-repair and unit-replacement shops. The unit-repair and unit-replacement system is provided for in motor-vehicle procurement wherein standardization of unit assemblies with maximum interchangeability is considered coincidentally with performance requirements.
In conclusion, the diverging trends in commercial and military motor-transport are indicated and the need for cooperation and coordination in national defense is stressed.
In the discussion,* it is stated that the Army's maintenance system is complete, down to the last detail, and that the governing principles should have a very practical interest for the commercial motor-transport operator. Standardization of units and parts is discussed, the scope of maintenance design-possibilities is outlined and Army and civilian operators' problems are contrasted. Simplified design is advocated.
Applying echelon maintenance to commercial fleets is outlined, fourth and fifth-echelon functions are explained, and it is stated that skilled mechanics are not needed in the Army's scheme. The application of motor-vehicles to military use is treated, a parallel is drawn between Army and commercial maintenance plans, the importance of front-wheel drive is emphasized, and means for avoiding confusion while still maintaining motor-vehicles in war are outlined rather specifically.