“Where is that D*mn TM?”
I have said the previous statement (or derivatives of it) more times than I can count in my military career. During PMCS, during inventories, during inspections, it does not matter. The TM is never there when you want it, or need it.
Thanks to the ubiquity of technology, LOGSA has certainly helped to stem this problem. Electronic TM’s in CD and Web format are very useful, and provided that your computer has the right CAC certificates (always a fun time trying to get everything to use it on your home PC). Maintenance shops are even issued Maintenance Support Devices, which are basically rugged laptops (using that term very loosely) that you can load TM’s on to so you can take it with you to the vehicle.
But when you need that paper copy, it just is not there.
I remember before each of my Change of Command inventories, I sat down behind a computer with a copy of the Property Book and pulled up the TM for every item. I downloaded it, printed up the cover and the BII sections and put them in a stack, ready to go just in case the outgoing commander did not have them ready. Which, most of the time, they did not.
But TM’s are needed for more than just inspections, inventories and PMCS. It is critical that you have them on hand so that you can take emergency remedial action or to complete tasks that make you use the equipment in ways that you are not accustomed to.
The easiest way to ensure this is not to lose it in the first place. As this is not always in your control, it is vital that you make good friends with (or become) the Publications Manager.
Each unit has one of these (usually a secondary duty with a pubs clerk at the Company and a pubs manager at the Battalion). I have not seen many successful publications programs in my time, but when they are successful, they are very easy to get a hold of. That is why I say it may not be a bad idea to become it (if not on orders, maybe just effectively). It will help you, and your Soldiers, remember a key fact about these manuals that often gets overlooked: Pubs cost Money. Lots of money.
So treat your TM’s with respect. And if at all possible, do not operate your equipment without one.