SANDSTON, Va. –
The Virginia National Guard has signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the North Carolina National Guard to join the West Virginia and Pennsylvania National Guard as external customers storing equipment at the Fort Pickett Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site according to an announcement made June 21, 2017, by Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. MATES personnel maintain the equipment and make sure it is fully mission capable for Soldiers from the respective states to use for training. The new agreement adds a company of M1 main battle tanks and will bring an additional five full-time jobs to the MATES and additional training personnel to Fort Pickett.
“The agreement with the North Carolina National Guard adds to the already impressive array of capabilities at the Fort Pickett Maneuver Training Center and MATES,” Williams said. “I appreciate the hard work on the part of the Virginia National Guard logistics team for pulling all the details together to finalize the agreement, and it never would have happened without the great reputation the staff at MATES has earned through hard work and outstanding customer support. I also want to thank the leaders of the North Carolina National Guard for placing their trust and confidence in the ability of our team to help them maintain a high state of readiness, and we look forward to growing this partnership in the years to come.”
According to Lt. Col. Paul Gravely, Fort Pickett chief of plans, training and security, the North Carolina Army National Guard will be able to rotate tank crews from multiple units through the company of tanks maintained at MATES, and Fort Pickett will most likely see an increase in training day usage as a result of the new agreement.
Fort Pickett is the only National Guard installation on the East Coast capable of supporting stabilized gunnery from M1 tanks and M3 Bradleys for qualification at the platoon level, Gravely said. The installation ranges can also support unstabilized gunnery for Strykers, Humvees and tactical trucks.
The tanks belong to Sanford, North Carolina-based Delta Troop, 1st Squadron, 150th Cavalry Regiment, 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team. In addition to the 14 tanks there will be an armored recovery vehicle and armored personnel carrier maintained by MATES personnel.
The vehicles are expected to arrive in late June or early July, and the jobs should be advertised in October when the new fiscal year begins.
“We are pleased to be partnering with the Virginia National Guard with this equipment storage and training plan,” said Col. Robert Bumgardner, commander of the 30th ABCT. “It will provide cost savings for the units involved and allow the combat team to remain ready, reliable and responsive as a Total Army Force.”
More than 100 personnel assigned to the MATES provide maintenance support for 112 units and more than 500 combat vehicles and other equipment positioned at Fort Pickett including M1 tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, howitzers and a variety of other tracked and wheeled vehicles. In addition to Virginia National Guard vehicles, MATES personnel maintain equipment assigned to the West Virginia and Pennsylvania Army National Guard that is drawn when units from those states come to Fort Pickett for training. In addition to vehicle maintenance shops, MATES also contains supply areas and a variety of repair shops including vehicle painting, body work, communications equipment and small arms.
MATES received the 2015 Army Award for Maintenance Excellence in the Army National Guard Table of Distribution and Allowance Category during a ceremony Sept. 21, 2016, in Arlington, Virginia.
“Our MATES winning the Army Award for Maintenance Excellence is huge in the Army sustainment community,” said Col. Michael Swanson, director of logistics for the Virginia National Guard when the award was presented. “They were recognized by a Department of the Army evaluation team of maintenance experts for organizational maintenance excellence as well as for maintaining a high level of equipment readiness during very tough fiscal times. By winning this award, our Virginia MATES displayed that they are at the top-performing level of all organizational maintenance shops around the Army. They truly deserve this national recognition as a true reflection of their hard work and excellent maintenance support to their customers.”
According to their official web site, the Army Award for Maintenance Excellence award winner displays an expertise and professionalism in performing their tasks. Each unit is evaluated on their effectiveness in ensuring that Soldier competency is maintained, assessments of each unit in the categories of attitude and effective leadership are rated with a benchmark based on those of past winners and the tenets of exceptional maintenance processes that were exhibited are validated and ranked.
Fort Pickett is approximately 41,000 acres and operated by the Virginia National Guard. It features a combination of open and wooded terrain maneuver areas and 21 ranges capable of supporting almost any weapons system in the U. S. Army inventory. In addition, the installation has a rail spur and C-17 capable airfield as well as barracks to support more than 5,000 personnel and morale, welfare and recreation facilities including a gym, post exchange and leisure center.