Bosnia Report Keeping SUSVs Goin' When It's Snowing'

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Bosnia Report Keeping SUSVs Goin' When It's Snowing' Powered By Docstoc

     Swedish Mechanics
     Help U.S. Troops Maintain
     SUSV All-terrain Vehicles
                                                                                                                        Photo by author

Keeping SUSVs Goin’ When It’s Snowin’
by Staff Sergeant Conrad College             SUSV to get to telephone poles and tow-       broad that, when fully-loaded, it weighs
   372nd MPAD                                ers in remote locations, according to         less per unit of surface area than a skiing
                                             Swedish Army Major Lennart Malmgren,          soldier,” Malmgren said.
                                             chief maintenance officer at Camp Odin
  With the frigid, unpredictable Balkan      near Tuzla.                                    U.S. troops found working on the SUSV
winter fast approaching, Task Force Ea-                                                    relatively easy.
gle called on the Swedish Army to help        Malmgren and a group of his staff came
                                                                                             “It’s pretty good. It’s simpler than you’d
train U.S. soldiers on an unfamiliar, yet    to Eagle Base recently to train U.S. me-      think,” said Specialist Adam Petersen, a
useful, all-terrain vehicle.                 chanics from several different units. Built
                                             by Hagglunds Vehicle AB in Sweden, the        mechanic stationed at Eagle Base with
 The Army has about 30 Swedish-built                                                       the 88th Air Defense Artillery, 2nd Ar-
small-unit support vehicles — or SUSVs       SUSV can carry four people in the front       mored Cavalry Regiment. “But you can’t
                                             section and up to 12 troops in full combat
— deployed throughout the task force, to     gear, or a little more than 3,000 pounds of   get underneath it to work. The bottom is a
be used to transport troops and equipment                                                  solid sheet like a boat, so it’s like work-
to remote locations.                         cargo, in the back section. Malmgren said     ing on an inboard engine on a boat —
                                             the vehicle has a Mercedes-Benz six-
 The SUSV is a great winter vehicle; just    cylinder, in-line diesel engine and a Mer-    you have to do things like change the
                                                                                           transmission fluid from inside the cab.
ask any Swedish soldier. But U.S. sol-       cedes Benz four-speed automatic trans-        Even then, you pump the fluid out, using
diers who recently came to Bosnia didn’t     mission.
know how to work on them, leaving most                                                     a hand-pump.”
                                              “Sweden is a small country. We can’t
out of service. To get the fleet up and      afford to order many special engines and       He said the Mercedes-Benz engine is
running, a team of Swedish Army m      e-                                                  nearly trouble-free. “There are very few
chanics taught U.S. soldiers how to con-     other components,” he said. “So we often      problems with the engine, but I hear they
                                             use off-the-shelf parts that are already
duct routine maintenance and, probably       being mass-produced. This engine is ba-       have a lot of trouble with the track.”
most important, how to drive the vehicles.
                                             sically the same as in a Mercedes Benz         From a distance, the track looks like a
 “The reason we have SUSVs here is to        300 automobile.”                              regular, metal track, but it is actually a
serve the troops on the hilltops,” said                                                    one-piece, rubber track. If it gets torn
                                              The driver’s controls are user-friendly.
Captain Lance Eldred, the 1st Armored        Sitting in the driver’s seat, the steering    completely across, it must be replaced.
Division’s maintenance readiness officer.                                                  Several Swedish Army mechanics and
“Snow and rough terrain will not stop this   wheel, dashboard, and console-mounted         maintenance officers from Camp Odin
                                             gear shifter are almost the same as in a
vehicle.”                                    car.                                          worked with the American mechanics for
                                                                                           four days at Eagle Base, showing them,
  The SUSV is a two-part tracked vehicle       “It’s very easy to drive. It feels about    not only maintenance by the book, but,
that hinges in the middle, excels in mo v-
ing across snow, drives easily down the      like driving a small car,” Malmgren said.     also, many tricks and tips they have
                                             “We have an Army of conscripts, where         learned over the years.
highway, is as silent as a shadow, floats    military service is compulsory. So we
and swims like a duck. Its Army designa-
tion is the M-973A1 carrier, cargo,          designed this vehicle to be easy to drive.
                                             When a person starts military service and
tracked, 1½-ton, or small-unit support       has a driver’s license for a small car, we      Editor’s Note: The Swedish vehicle de-
vehicle. The Swedish Army, which em-                                                       scribed here is similar to the Bv 206S,
ploys 4,000 SUSVs, calls them “tracked       can teach him or her to operate every-        also made by Hagglunds, that is men-
                                             thing on this vehicle and in all sorts of
wagons.” The vehicle is used extensively     terrain in three weeks.”                      tioned in the previous article that begins
by Swedish companies for off-road                                                          on page 30. The major difference is that
transportation in snow and ice. The tele-     The SUSV makes an excellent military         the Bv206S is armored while the M973A1
phone company in Sweden uses the             ski-rescue vehicle. “The tracks are so        SUSVs are not.

ARMOR — July-August 1999                                                                                                          33