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NEWS | Feb. 4, 2022

MATES provides critical maintenance for units visiting NADWC

By Staff Sgt. Tristan D. Viglianco Michigan National Guard Public Affairs

One of the many things that makes northern Michigan’s National All-Domain Warfighting Center (NADWC) so attractive to visiting units is the state-of-the-art facility and team of knowledgeable, dedicated maintenance staff at the Maneuver and Training Equipment Site (MATES). Located at the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center, the site regularly supports a variety of units visiting during exercises or on drill weekends

“We support the exercises held here in a couple of different ways,” said U.S. Army Capt. Peter Leeman, Camp Grayling MATES superintendent. “One way is through the equipment pool that is staged here. Instead of driving all of your equipment up for a training mission, units only have to bring key items. Then, we can supplement whatever equipment a commander needs from our pool, which helps them reduce costs.”

“The second way we support units is by offering our technicians’ maintenance expertise,” continued Leeman. “Working with the equipment day-to-day provides them with a high level of expertise. Visiting units often ask us questions or have inquiries on maintenance procedures.”

Units utilizing the Camp Grayling portion of the NADWC have access to the second-largest MATES in the country. The site also boasts a 147,500 square foot storage area with 125 cold storage bays, which is connected to the rest of the training area.

Even though it features an expansive work area, Leeman believes the hard work and knowledge of the staff are truly what sets the Michigan MATES apart.

The MATES staff is broken out into different sections, which all work together. The sections are auto 1 and 2, armaments and electronics, tools and parts, production control, and inspections.

“When a unit returns equipment we go through it with a fine-toothed comb, write up anything that may be wrong with it and order the parts,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Cameron Fulco, MATES surface maintenance mechanic. “From there it will be turned into production control who will create the work order.”

“Tools and parts will order the necessary parts and allocate them to the job,” continued Fulco. “Then it will come back to the maintenance teams where we will fix whatever the problem is. It's basically a big loop where we all work together and feed into what the other sections are doing.”

The auto sections are responsible for maintaining the different types of vehicles pooled at the MATES.

“Units from all over the state pool their equipment up here, so when they come up here for drill or annual training they can grab their things and go,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Peyton Ziglia, MATES surface maintenance mechanic. “Our job is to maintain that equipment for them, so when they come back from training, they annotate any faults or any that we find are repaired. This ensures their equipment is always ready to go.”

When vehicles are turned back in, if any of the faults involve displays, electronics, or wiring, the electronics shop will address those.

“We are responsible for maintaining and updating radios, power sources for those radios, electronics throughout the vehicle, and software and firmware.” said U.S. Army Sgt. Jordan Williams, MATES electronics mechanic. “We also do annual inspections and technical inspections when equipment is turned back in.”

Maintenance for weapons systems and munitions falls under the purview of the armament section.

“The armaments shop has a huge role in MATES,'' said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jared Welch, MATES armament equipment repair inspector. “We are responsible for troubleshooting and repairing the paladins, mortars, and small arms weapons.”

All of the maintenance sections have counterparts in quality control who are responsible for performing final inspections. Often, the inspectors were maintainers themselves who have a wealth of experience.

“As quality control we oversee all of the mechanics who are here wrenching and doing the work,” said Welch. “We oversee the final checks before equipment is returned to the unit.”

The three maintenance sections rely heavily on production control to ensure maintenance is tracked, scheduled, and performed.

“When we get maintenance request forms from any other shops we create the work orders,'' said U.S. Army Cpl. Christine Purga, MATES production controller. “We also help mechanics if they need log books or keys and work with customers who want to draw equipment.”

After production control creates the work orders, tools and parts secures the necessary items for repairs.

“We order, receive, and stock the parts,” said U.S. Spc. Garrett Stark, MATES tools and parts clerk. “We are like the shipping and receiving for the mechanics. We will call and email across the state and drive to go get it sometimes.”

The MATES staff takes pride in ensuring units training at the NADWC have the necessary equipment needed for efficient and effective training.
“We are here to help the customer,” said Fulco. “When a unit draws a piece of equipment and they are using it out in the field, if it breaks down we will do everything we can to go and fix it on site or bring it back. We bend over backwards to ensure the customer has what they need.”