Mr. Scott Hess (photo courtesy TACOM)
MSG Half-Mast recently visited Warren, Michigan, the home of the Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) to speak with Mr. Scott Hess, the Weapons Product Support Integration Directorate (PSID) Small Arms Group leader.
Mr Hess graduated from Ohio State University (Columbus, OH) with a bachelor's degree in business administration (specializing in transportation and logistics). He completed a master’s degree in business administration in 2019 from Wayne State University. He also holds a certification in production and inventory management (CPIM) with the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM). In 2007, Mr Hess began his civilian career at Fort Lee, VA, as a Department of the Army intern. After one year, he took a job with TACOM, first at Rock Island Arsenal, IL, and subsequently at the Detroit Arsenal, where he has held several positions of increasing responsibility: Small Arms Readiness and Evaluation Team (SARET), as a supply specialist; supply chain manager for mortar systems; weapon system manager (WSM) for mortar fire control systems; WSM for the sniper team; first-line supervisor, individuals weapons team; small arms group supervisor: and, currently, small arms group leader, where he oversees the sustainment of approximately two million small arms for the US Army. In 2011, he deployed for several months to Camp Victory, Iraq, as site lead for the Small Arms Support Center.
Please describe the mission and function of the Weapons Product Support Integration Directorate at TACOM and, in particular, the focus of the Small Arms Group.
Mr Hess: The mission and function of the Weapons PSID is to provide logistics and sustainment support to the US military, foreign allies, and other agencies for small arms weapons, aircraft armament, sensors/lasers, targetry and close combat systems, consistently delivering products and services when and where needed worldwide. Responsive support is provided through customer-focused associates and long-term partnering with the organic base and industry suppliers.
The Small Arms Group mission is to provide a comprehensive logistical solution for the sustainment of small arms within the DoD and US Army, as well as for foreign allies. We strive to provide a thorough and responsive solution set to the Army’s complex logistical issues, while utilizing our partners and logistics expertise. The group is driven to ensure readiness for the US Army and to remain responsive and flexible to the changing logistical landscape.
Our sustainment support consists of: secondary and major item management (supply); maintenance support (establishing and verifying maintenance tasks); publications creation (draft technical manuals, safety messages and modification work orders); provisioning (obtaining new national stock numbers or NSNs); and integrated logistics support (life-cycle sustainment plans).
What trends or issues do you see when it comes to the proper (or improper) care and maintenance of small arms across the Army? Put another way, are there some common causes for weapons becoming NMC?
Mr. Hess: I believe the Army, in a macro sense, has made great strides on the care and maintenance of weapons. However, we still see a variety of issues involving improper care and use of weapons. One of the most common, and one of the most easily remedied, is the failure to properly clean the weapon after firing. When weapons are not cleaned after use (especially after multiple uses), it will cause the weapon to rust, jam and potentially misfire, among other adverse problems. Ensuring preventive maintenance and proper cleaning of the weapon are performed will pay dividends in the form of availability and serviceability to the unit. Another unfortunate, and common issue, is not adhering to the technical manuals (TMs). Whether Soldiers are utilizing wrong spare parts on their weapon or simply not using the weapon for how it is intended almost always results in accidents or malfunctions, if not both.
If you could tell Soldiers the one-most-important-thing, right now, regarding operator-level weapon handling and maintenance, what would it be?
Mr. Hess: Please clean your weapons after firing and adhere to all preventive maintenance outlined in your -10 and -23 TMs. There is an inverse correlation between properly cleaning and maintaining your weapon and accidents and/or malfunctions. The more you adhere to the TM’s procedures, the less likely an accident or malfunction will happen.
What one thing would you convey to commanders and other unit leaders regarding their responsibility for weapon accountability and maintenance (it’s okay if there are two or three)?
Mr. Hess: In regards to accountability, keep close tabs on your property books. We are consistently shipping and sending weapons to units and unserviceable assets from the unit back to the depot. Take the time to periodically audit your weapons serial numbers and reconcile your property books.
In terms of maintenance, instill in Soldiers the necessity to adhere to the TMs for maintaining unit weapons; this needs to occur at all levels. By adhering to preventive maintenance, gauging, and cleaning requirements, you will extend the life of your weapons and subsequently maintain operational readiness within your unit. We are operating in an environment where there are limited funds to provide sustainment-level overhaul, and we need to maximize the mean time between failures on small arms.
What small arms technology developments are you excited about; conversely, what developments ought the Army pursue when it comes to small arms, both in terms of lethality and ease of maintenance?
Mr. Hess: The team and I are very excited about continuing to explore new maintenance philosophies. We are actually in the midst of exploring—and potentially implementing—completely field-level maintainable weapons for some of our newer, less complex weapon systems. Currently, our entire small arms portfolio contains depot-level tasks. The weapon receiver (serialized item) is always swapped at the depot. We are looking to evolve from this process. For a select few weapons, all repairs could potentially be done by the unit maintainer and the weapon would never have to leave the unit. They would simply order a serialized receiver through the Army supply system and then replace. Our goal is three-fold: increase readiness, ensure these tasks will not add an unreasonable amount of time to the maintainer’s duties and, above all else, ensure accountability. There are a lot of nuances with this new procedure and they are being worked out at all of the levels within the Army. I can say we are definitely making headway on this proposal.
Are there any other words of wisdom you can offer Soldiers and leaders when it comes to ensuring the readiness of small arms to support the wide array of missions today’s Army is responsible for?
Mr. Hess: The Small Arms Group at TACOM is here to help. If you have questions on supply, maintenance, publications or general logistics questions, we are here to assist. That is our job. Please utilize our team to assist in your missions and efforts.
If you'd like to reach out to the TACOM Small Arms Group, you can email them at: