CW5 Robert C. Pitts III
Earlier this month, MSG Half-Mast travelled to the Pentagon to speak with Chief Warrant Officer Five Robert C. Pitts III, Senior Ordnance and Logistics Officer, HQDA G-4 to discuss non-combat operations maintenance plans (NCOMP).
CW5 Pitts assumed his current duties in April 2020, where he oversees maintenance policies and procedures used by all Army logisticians and maintenance personnel. He previously served as the Senior Ordnance Logistics Officer for HQ US States Army Corps of Engineers. Other significant assignments included Commander, Communications Support Detachment, Joint Communications Support Element (Airborne), MacDill AFB; Senior Automotive Maintenance Support Officer, US Special Operations Command (USOCOM); and Senior Ordnance Maintenance Officer, Eighth Army G4, Support Operations Division. A native of Hazlehurst, GA, CW5 Pitts entered the Army in October 1987. He was assessed as a Warrant Officer in February 1995. He has a B.S. from Excelsior College, NY, and an MBA from Grantham University, KS.
MSG Half-Mast: Chief, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with PS Magazine. Let’s start with the basics: what does NCOMP stand for and what purpose does it serve? Is NCOMP replacing another program? What advantages does NCOMP offer to Army maintainers?
CW5 Pitts: NCOMP stands for non-combat operations maintenance plans. NCOMP is a line of effort under the umbrella of maintenance optimization that trends towards condition-based maintenance (CBM), condition-based maintenance plus (CBM+) sensory, and predictive/prognostic maintenance (PPMx). That's a fancy way of saying it's an extended-service work plan for selected fleets, similar to the low usage plan (LUP) outlined in DA Pam 750-8. NCOMP replaces the legacy LUP for affected fleets, placing greater emphasis on the actual use of equipment so that scheduled services are more condition-based.
NCOMP emphasizes exercising equipment by dispatching and operating it, thus placing more focus on usage to better capture unit OPTEMPO. Over time, the program will result in advantages to both equipment operators and maintainers: the requirement to exercise equipment increases operator proficiency and the implementation of a pre-exercise (PreEx) checklist, performed by the mechanics, increases communication between operators and maintenance personnel.
NCOMP results in a lower number of scheduled services during periods of non-combat operations; the time saved is transferred to and increases the quality of actual-use-of-equipment services. It also increases operational availability by reducing administrative non-mission capable (NMC) time for unnecessary scheduled services.
-10 TM preventive maintenance checks and services (PMCS) remain the same as they always have. Less time doing -20 scheduled maintenance also means more time for troubleshooting and unscheduled repair actions, which have been shown to improve mechanic maintenance expertise.
MSG Half-Mast: Equipment tends to get a good workout on rotations to Korea, Europe and the NTC. For the purpose of NCOMP, are those types of rotations considered combat? Please explain the rationale for why or why not.
CW5 Pitts: Per FRAGO-3 of EXORD 169-19, Optimization of Maintenance during Noncombat Operations, rotations to Korea, Europe, JRTC, and NTC are not considered combat operations. Two studies conducted by the Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Data Analysis Center demonstrated that while OPTEMPO increases during training periods, it’s still well short of the published TM usage “triggers” for scheduled service during combat operations. Therefore, units will utilize NCOMP during training rotations to Korea and Europe.
There are ongoing discussions regarding the possibility of exempting select equipment sets and fleets belonging to TRADOC, ATEC, JRTC and NTC. JRTC and NTC simulate drawing from army prepositioned stocks (APS), followed by “combat operations” on a revolving basis year-round, year after year. APS equipment sets are exempt from NCOMP, so an argument can be made for exempting training fleets and activity sets. We are also considering exempting unit maintained equipment (UME), left-behind equipment (LBE) and some other contractor-maintained equipment sets due to lack of available military manpower to exercise the equipment, which makes implementing NCOMP less cost-effective.
For the typical Army organization however, NCOMP can free up funding and man-hours for more value-added purposes. A series of general officer steering committee (GOSC) meetings are planned for the 4th Quarter of FY21 for Army senior leaders to weigh these issues and make decisions for FRAGO-4 of EXORD 169-19.
MSG Half-Mast: What do leaders, Soldiers and maintainers need to do to prepare for the transition of equipment to NCOMP?
CW5 Pitts: Commander’s responsibilities for the execution of maintenance remain unchanged. Operator PMCS responsibilities remain unchanged. Unlike the current LUP, there’s no requirement for the highest-level service to be performed prior to implementation of NCOMP schedules. All equipment transitioned under NCOMP does need to meet the Army maintenance standard prescribed by AR 750-1, and therefore any overdue services need to be performed prior to transition.
The NCOMP process consists of a maintenance action message (MAM),—issued by the relevant life-cycle management command (LCMC) or program executive office (PEO)—extended service work package, PreEx checklist and a link to applicable Global Combat Support System-Army (GCSS-Army) procedures. Units need to read the MAM and comply by using Combined Arms Support Command’s (CASCOM’s) NCOMP work plan templates in GCSS-Army.
MSG Half-Mast: GCSS-Army is an important part of the NCOMP process. What do Soldiers need to know about the role GCSS-A plays as equipment transitions to NCOMP?
CW5 Pitts: Some units have been creating their own NCOMP work plans in GCSS-Army that do not conform to the approved usage and mileage intervals derived by PEOs and LCMCs. They should not do this.
The CASCOM GCSS-Army development team has developed work plan templates supporting the published NCOMPs, and each MAM has a link to the procedures. It’s important to follow the MAM instructions and use only the CASCOM-developed work plan templates. These templates include an engineering risk analysis built into the extended service work plans, and the PreEx checklist is constructed to mitigate any associated risk.
MSG Half-Mast: Is there a timeline that leaders, Soldiers and maintainers need to observe when it comes to NCOMP? Is this program happening in the long term or the short term?
CW5 Pitts: The NCOMP strategy will continue with development of additional MAMs and an annual review of published MAMs. In the long term, NCOMP work plan development will be shaped, influenced and enabled by the merging of GCSS-Army Next, CBM+, and PPMx into the enterprise business system. As the Army continues to work toward maintenance optimization, NCOMP will focus available maintenance resources on the most value added tasks.
Recent examples of NCOMP rollouts include: CECOM LCMC re-released the Tactical Quiet Generator (TQG) NCOMP MAM in April 2021 and is currently assessing the Advanced Medium Mobile Power Source (AMMPS) Generator Sets for NCOMP development. TACOM LCMC has published NCOMPs for HMMWV and FMTV Fleets. Both of these MAMs are scheduled for review in 1st QTR FY22. We expect the publication of NCOMP MAMs for HEMTT, PLS, and medium tactical trailers starting 4th Quarter FY21. ASA (ALT) PEOs are assessing other systems and will make recommendations on additional fleets for future NCOMP development.
MSG Half-Mast: How does NCOMP help the Army with readiness and what general advice would you give to Soldiers about NCOMP specifically and PMCS in general?
CW5 Pitts: NCOMP is not a “one-size-fits-all” program. It’s not designed to result in less maintenance; rather, it’s designed to put the focus on value-added maintenance, which will be clearly identified during the exercise requirement.
Operator maintenance has always been, and will continue to be, the cornerstone of the unit maintenance program. We need proficient operators who know their equipment and mechanics with professional maintenance aptitude. NCOMP may not result in higher readiness rates in the short-term, but it will result in verified readiness and better operator and mechanic proficiency over time. The goal is not to save money; it's to spend resources in a more condition-based, optimized way.
Ask yourself which is more value-added: 1) money and manpower spent conducting unnecessary scheduled services; or 2) mechanics and operators working together to exercise and repair equipment under more realistic, OPTEMPO-driven conditions?
We're manned and equipped for combat operations, and TM-scheduled services are designed to sustain equipment during combat operations. The Army has a lot of equipment; therefore, scheduled services, which require time and money, should be performed in a more optimized fashion. Implementing NCOMP will enable the Army to optimize the execution of maintenance resources. It will leverage funding and man hours to directly support operational availability, while improving operator proficiency and unit maintenance expertise. Go Ordnance!
For more information on the NCOMP Program, check out these resources:
CASCOM overview video:
Army Sustainment Magazine Hip Pocket Guide:
NCOMP MilSuite Site: