Standardized measurements ensure weapons systems from aircraft to mission-critical vehicles operate safely and effectively. And serving as the critical link providing the highest level of metrology and calibration for the District of Columbia National Guard’s inventory are members of the Test Measurement Diagnostic Equipment (TMDE) section inside the Surface Equipment Maintenance Facilities/Combined Support Maintenance Shop at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling.
“We’re a unique component within maintenance — everything we do must be precise and is done to an exact science,” said Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Sailes, Electronics and Calibration supervisor. “Take a torque wrench used for a vehicle, for example, if the wrench isn’t calibrated correctly too much torque means tires won’t spin right, and not enough means the tire may fall off.”
Sgt. 1st Class Sailes stresses everything must be completed by his tacticians according to regulation. As members of the D.C. National Guard’s Test, Measurement, and Diagnostic Equipment Activity, their primary responsibility is to test, adjust and verify accuracy.
“Our job touches a lot of sections and people. Whatever can be tested, measured, or diagnosed—we are the people who keep it from slipping,” Sgt. 1st Class Sailes said. “You can’t fix planes, helicopters, or vehicles without a tool to do X, Y and Z.”
The success and readiness of the D.C. Guard is influenced by Sgt. 1st Class Sailes and his electronics and calibration technicians. On this week, there’s tactical vehicle components, dial pressure gauges, batteries, and mechanical tube scales to test and inventory.
“Our job is a hidden gem,” Spc. Jasmine Felton, electronics and calibration technician. “Vehicles don’t move, and helicopter won’t fly if equipment isn’t calibrated properly. We also adhere to what’s written in our technical bulletin which lists the requirements for TMDE and calibration standards.”
Spc. Felton works alongside Spc. John Parker who argues their role is all-encompassing.
“People can’t do their jobs effectively without us,” Parker said.
He also stresses anyone interested in a career in electronics and calibration should join his unique team.
“If you can contribute attention to detail, focus, and timeliness then this could be the next position for you,” he said.
The D.C. National Guard offers a myriad of innovative, specialized careers like calibration to help people differentiate their expertise while serving their community and country, according to Master Sgt. Paul Shaw, section chief, D.C. National Guard Recruitment and Retention Battalion.
“Highly specialized training is one of the key components to the military,” he said. “By being a Capitol Guardian, you can take that highly specialized training and use it not only on duty, but with the myriad of civilian and government agencies in the National Capital Region.”
The National Guard collectively is developing new operational concepts and making major investments in capabilities needed for the future. On any given day more than 40,000 National Guard members actively engaged in U.S. military operations.
“People are the most important part of our force and recruiting is the tip of the spear in making sure we have the right people defending our nation,” Master Sgt. Shaw said. “What starts off as part-time service will give you the opportunity to find a career or accelerate your current one.”