The first words our Ground Support Team Leader wants to say is that the award is for the team not him.
“I just got the credit,” says Greg McDermott, chief warrant officer, United States Coast Guard.
For the past 12 years McDermott has served as support equipment chief and assigned to the Aviation Logistics Center, Elizabeth City, NC.
McDermott manages a staff of seven, oversees GSE inventory worth more than $500 million with an annual operating budget of $6 million that supports 26 USCG air stations and more than 200 aircraft throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.
“That is everything from fuel trucks to test kits,” McDermott explains.
His role fits into the center’s Engineering Services division – one of 12 divisions at the center, but one that is a “catch-all for us and crosses all platforms,” McDermott adds. That generally includes maintenance, engineering, procurement, supply and information.
The center’s motto says it best: “We Keep ‘Em Flying.” USCG aviation is renowned for its high level of readiness. At any given time, more than 50 aircraft must be ready to fly.
While aircraft may take the lead, we ran across an armed forces newsletter that referred to military GSE as “the forgotten enabler.” Without it, nothing is likely to move even an inch.
McDermott’s got more than a few things on his plate. His nomination for our Team Leader Award says he “ … purchased equipment in support of those air stations to include SATS tractors, fuel trucks, C-130 engine cranes and helicopter maintenance stands. He conducted a Coast Guard-wide electrical assessment of all air stations, Logistics Compliance Inspections, managed all ground support training (fuel trucks, GPUs, tow tractors) and is the CG representative to the Joint Panel for Aviation Support Equipment (JPAVSE).”
That’s a lot to unpack so let’s focus on standardization of GSE. That factor is important for two reasons:
- Training: It’s a key role for McDermott. In many cases, he’s training teenagers fresh out of high school for big responsibilities. “One of our challenges is that we are very good at what we call ‘pipeline’ training to service aircraft,” he says. “But that still leaves a lot of training for all the ground equipment that goes into servicing aircraft.”
- Money: “These are lean budget years,” McDermott explains, “so we need to know what we are going to do with what we get and make it work and make it last.” Standardizing new GSE also saves money through the equipment’s life cycle since all the spare parts needed throughout the years are also standardized, too.
We talked with McDermott shortly before a rep from NMC-Wollard Inc. would spend a week at the center to offer training on some of the newest pieces of GSE for the USCG.
This past February, the United States Army teamed up with the USCG on the Standard Aircraft Towing System joint venture. The first of five SATS rolled off the NMC-Wollard’s production line that month and were delivered to the USCG.
Standardization is one of the keys to today’s military procurement. As we mentioned, McDermott serves as the USCG’s rep to the JPAVSE, which emphasizes standardization of Aviation Ground Support Equipment (AGSE) for the Department of Defense and other uniformed services such as the USCG.
“Everyone in the armed services needs to do more with less financial resources,” McDermott says. “The SATS is a great example of this.”
The SATS is a tow tractor by any other name that the Army’s already relied on for the past two years to reposition rotary and fixed-wing aircraft for its aviation missions. To date the Army has bought nearly 500 of the tow tractors and the USCG will begin using 100 tractors this year.
McDermott joined Steven Ansley, a lieutenant colonel in the Army and product manager for the Army’s AGSE, during the roll out ceremony at NMC-Wollard’s Wisconsin plant.
The Army's stock of aviation ground support equipment is aging and falling into disrepair.