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Boeing Frontiers
March 2004
Volume 02, Issue 10
Boeing Frontiers
Integrated Defense Systems


IDS field support reps go in harm's way to keep Apaches combat ready


Jeff Miracle and Eric PeveyWhen you're in combat," Terry Shomaker said about his role supporting U.S. Army Apache helicopters in Operation Iraqi Freedom, "you're never comfortable."

"The desert environment, threat of combat always nearby and wearing a chemical suit was a challenge during the first three weeks of the war," added Eric Pevey.

Shomaker and Pevey were members of an elite group of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems Contractor Field Service Representatives and Contractor Logistics Support Representatives who joined U.S. Army crews in harm's way during Operation Iraqi Freedom and in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.

They were there to ensure that the Army's AH-64A Apaches and AH-64D Apache Longbows kept pace with intense combat operations. The CFSRs assisted the soldiers in keeping the aircraft ready for combat while the CLSRs ensured that parts needed for repairs were available.

A number of Boeing CFSRs and CLSRs have been stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past several months. Many of them served in Operation Desert Storm in 1990 and 1991. Some are still with Apache units supporting coalition operations. Additionally, Boeing CFSRs and CLSRs have served and continue to support U.S. Army Apache units elsewhere around the world.

"Many of our Apache CFSRs and CLSRs find their way closer to the front lines than most," said Dave Sale, Boeing IDS manager of Apache Field Service. "Because the Apache, along with other U.S. Army assets, leads the battle."

And the results, as defined by the U.S. Army, have been overwhelmingly positive. Operational rates were well above Army readiness standards during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, and the Apaches used in Iraq already have been credited with destroying enemy targets that exceed the equivalent of two combat divisions. A typical Iraqi division included hundreds of T-72 tanks, armored infantry fighting vehicles and artillery pieces, in addition to a variety of other combat equipment. Additional details about Apache performance are expected in coming months.

CFSRs and CLSRs traveled in convoys with ground troops, lived in tents and ate the same food. At times, the heat was oppressive, at 120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit (49 to 54 C). And no one could forget the relentless blowing sand that found its way into just about everything.

"It was hectic, nonstop work, often 12 hours a day or more," recalled Pevey, who supported a D-model Apache unit. "We lived, ate and worked with the soldiers. We slept in the same tents. But I can tell you that the pilots and maintainers we worked with were happy with the Apache. And working with quality men and women motivated me to be at my best around the clock."

Jeff Miracle, who worked with another AH-64D unit, said the CFSRs helped keep the aircraft flying at an average of more than three times the normal flight hours per month. "I believe that having CFSRs in the field with the troops helped save everyone valuable time, because we were able to use our understanding of the Apache to help get the aircraft ready for their missions," he added.

"I think my Army logistics background and the fact that we were well prepared before deployment enabled us to help our customer keep their Apaches ready for combat. In fact, I can't recall a time when an Apache was down for more than 24 hours," recalled Shomaker. "It was great to see that our CFSRs were being used effectively. We had the experts available and the Army listened. Then, when we needed parts, I could get the part to the troops or get on the phone to a Boeing representative and get a part immediately. Everybody worked together. It was impressive to see it work so smoothly."

Mike Shay, another Boeing CFSR, agreed: "It's important to our Army customer that we can help save money, protect valuable assets and save lives, and make certain that their Apaches are always ready to put steel on target."

CFSR Ryan Black, who spent a year in Afghanistan supporting an AH-64A Apache unit during Operation Enduring Freedom, recently captured the essence of the Apache's dominance in Afghanistan. Black recalled comments by an Apache pilot assigned to an escort mission who saw enemy activity on a nearby mountainside and went to investigate. The enemy troops saw the Apache, immediately put down their weapons and waved to surrender.

A tale like that shows that "you know you have an effective piece of equipment," Black said proudly.


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