Vehicle BDAR

Battle Damage Assessment and Repair. When I opened youtube last night, it recommended these two videos to me.

Vehicle Graveyard
Tank graveyard

In the first video, most of the vehicles are obviously total losses, and almost certainly a fair number of our troops died in the attacks.

But the second video shows quite a few vehicles that were damaged beyond repair… that is, beyond what  a unit can repair. But having been dragged off the battlefield, there’s a fair chance a good number of tanks and Bradley’s shown have been (or at least, could have been) rotated through the Army’s depot level maintenance system, and restored to service. And if our forces in Iraq had been truly pressed for vehicles, some probably could have been run through BDAR. By salvaging parts from multiple vehicles, and by accepting some degradation of capability, some of the tracks in the second vid could have been pressed into service.

Each mechanized battalion in the Army had two “spare” vehicles assigned to it, called “floats”. Almost like a loaner car from the dealer when you bring your car into the shop. If your Bradley (or tank) was damaged or broken down, you’d use the  “float” until your own vehicle could be restored.

That was the concept, anyway. When my unit was in Desert Storm, we actually tended to use the “floats” as rolling spare parts bins.  If one of the primary tracks in the company needed a spare part, such as a 25mm main gun, they’d turn the busted gun into maintenance, and steal the gun off the float.  We had several vehicles that ended up having to cannibalize parts off the float. It was a pretty disreputable looking hoopty that crossed the border a discrete distance behind us. No main gun, no TOW launcher, no ISU (Integrated Sight Unit), short-tracked on one side because someone else needed a road wheel arm, no radios or antenna mounts. And no rear ramp. Let me tell you, moving that thing was a massive pain!  But by depriving one vehicle of its parts, the rest of the company crossed into Iraq with reasonably fully functional vehicles.

5 thoughts on “Vehicle BDAR”

  1. I’ve been reading Tom Clancy’s book he wrote with Fred Franks. I was a bit surprised, but I guess I should not have been, that vehicle availability was over 90%. The prospect of Combat has a way of concentrating one’s mind.

  2. Not sure what the basis of issue for Floats used to be, but it now tends to be a tank, a Brad and a Paladin at the brigade level, that is owned by the support battalion. The technical term for them is “ORF” for Operational Readiness Float. I had the unpleasant experience of the support battalion literally dragging the ORF tank to one of my tank ranges one day so that they could shoot it. (Fire it, not put it out of its misery.) I wound up kicking them off my range after it soaked up too much range time. This is the kind of maintenance that someone should get fired over.
    By the way, cannibalization, doctrinally referred to as Controlled Substitution, is now a process that requires BN CDR approval. It is a good way to regenerate combat power, though.

    1. While I was in, cannibalization was strictly discouraged. I don’t know if the Army was still producing the comic books when you first came in, but I remember one on cannibalization that brought back an old codger from the Army Flying Service of WW1 to talk about the issue and rain disapproval on the young whippersnappers of the day cannibalizing equipment.

      Some things, however, keep coming back, and cannibalization is one of those things. Human nature, or some other reason, I know not why. Too handy I guess.

    2. They’re STILL producing the PM comic book.

      Cannibalization is approved under controlled circumstances, both in the Army and the other services. The issue is keeping a tight control on it, ensuring that it increases readiness for the whole unit, and that spare parts supply doesn’t fall by the wayside.

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