Winter PMCS for Mission Success
Directorate of Assessments and Prevention
U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center
Fort Rucker, Alabama
Some consider a properly maintained and safely operated Army combat vehicle (ACV) or Army motor vehicle (AMV) the Army’s first line of defense. Getting to the fight with all the necessary equipment is critical. If Soldiers don’t have a way to travel, the unit is less capable of achieving its mission, putting forces on the front line at risk. Cold weather can add another layer of complexity to already challenging conditions for vehicle crews — especially in theater — so it’s vital leaders and Soldiers focus on preventive maintenance checks and services (PMCS) to keep their equipment fully mission capable and safe on the road.
When performing maintenance checks, it is imperative operators or crews follow maintenance standards published in the PMCS tables of the -10 technical manuals. The preventive maintenance checks guidelines listed in TMs help identify potential failures of subcomponents that can cause a main system to fail and result in damage to equipment and injury or death to personnel. Improperly inspected equipment can fail and degrade the unit’s readiness.
First-line supervisors are vital in establishing and maintaining effective PMCS programs and ensuring their Soldiers drive in accordance with published standards. Attention to detail is important for leaders and Soldiers throughout the year, but driving in wintry conditions can be particularly dangerous. Using properly maintained equipment and following safe driving practices can help prevent mishaps and save lives, so be prepared to beat the cold.
Tips for maintaining and driving ACVs and AMVs during winter include:
- Perform PMCS before, during and after vehicle operations.
- Ensure windshield wipers are serviceable and the rubber lip is not torn.
- Check the windshield washer fluid reservoir regularly and refill as necessary. Debris from winter roads can be especially grimy.
- Ensure the vehicle battery is fully charged and in good condition.
- Check the lights to make sure all are operating properly. Brush off snow from all headlights and taillights so the vehicle is more visible to other drivers.
- Check tires and chains and train your crews how to install snow chains. Inspect tires regularly, checking tread depth and tire pressure.
- When planning for operations in adverse weather conditions, add additional time to travel.
- Check road conditions along the entire route and know the difference between conditions. Road conditions might start out as GREEN or AMBER but be RED farther along.
- Take it slow! You’ll need additional time and stopping distance on icy roads. Drivers should adjust the following distance between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them on ice-covered surfaces.
- Apply your brakes early to allow enough time for stopping. If your vehicle is equipped with anti-lock brakes, simply press the pedal down and hold it. In vehicles without anti-lock brakes, gently pump the pedal to bring the vehicle to a stop without skidding.
- Stay alert. Other drivers may fail to use their headlights, reduce their speed or adhere to other appropriate rules of the road.
Leaders need to be cognizant of the importance of PMCS and know it is a force multiplier. Poor PMCS can adversely affect Soldier morale and safety. Today’s Army is composed of highly motivated Soldiers that are committed to doing the right thing. When given guidance, proper resources and unyielding supervision, Soldiers can and will perform proper PMCS.
Did you know that Army Regulation 750-1, Army Materiel Maintenance, states that operator or crew PMCS are the foundation of the Army's maintenance program? Having a strong, solid foundation enables the development of a long-lasting maintenance structure as well as safe posture of personnel.