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Your Unit Water Buffalo Needs a Veterinarian…Taken From Beans to Bullets for the Non Logistician

Click the link to find your copy of Beans to Bullets Logistics for the Non-Logistician

It makes sense that a M149 Water Trailer needs to be inspected since it will ultimately hold Soldiers’ drinking water. It would also make sense that the Soldiers who are trained to test, treat and dispense water would also be the ones who actually inspect the water container. This, however, is not the case. Water containment systems are usually inspected by a member of the Army’s veterinarian services. It may be entertaining to believe that the M149, having the nickname “water buffalo,” is the reason for a veterinarian but that is not the case.

Remember the grim list of things that can happen if you drink contaminated water? The idea is to prevent such health risks and that is what Preventative Medicine is all about. The Army Preventative Medicine Program is outlined in AR 40-5. Preventative Medicine is not a branch of the army with Soldiers, NCOs and officers performing duties within their Preventative Medicine MOS. It is a functional area that is distributed within every medical MOS. Every aspect of medicine has a preventative component. The Department of Defense Veterinary Service Activity is charged with preventing water and food borne illnesses and that is how Army veterinarians get involved with water buffaloes.

The exact method and designated personnel who conduct M149 water tank inspections may vary but are ultimately determined by Veterinary Command (VETCOM). VETCOM also approves water sources used for production and also the distribution of bottled water. Incidentally, while Preventative Medicine may not have Soldiers specifically assigned a PM MOS it does have an overall chief at the strategic level; the Surgeon General.

Don’t let all this prevent you from applying common sense and your basic responsibilities as a leader. M149 Water Buffaloes are property book items that are managed by unit commanders and their respective Soldiers. Remember to transport, store, PMCS and care for the M149 in such a way that sustains sanitary conditions in the tank. Inspect the tank inside and out before filling it with water and do not leave the lid (manhole cover) open except as refill and inspections require.
The training manual for the M149 400 Gallon Water Trailer (TM 9-2330-267-14&P) is definitely worth your time. It provides detailed instructions for every aspect of the caring for the equipment. Much of the information and guidance is directly related to preventative medicine. Proper cleaning methods as prescribed in the TM need to be observed. The following is an example from TM 9-2330-267-14&P that should behoove you to learn more.


If water tank was filled with nonpotable water, water tank must be flushed out with clean potable water and drained. Do not allow water tank to sit for extended periods of time with any amount of liquid in it. Standing water will result in contamination and food poisoning. KEEP WATER TANK CLEAN AT ALL TIMES. Failure to follow this warning may result in serious illness or death to personnel. You might remember from the list of water borne illnesses that there was at least one which stated that all standing water sources are thought to be contaminated to some degree.

All standing water sources are thought to be contaminated to some degree.

For More Information on this subject see the following resource(s):

Beans to Bullets Logistics for the Non-Logistician


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posted on 04/09/2018 under Articles
Mark is a Retired Command Sergeant Major with 26 years of military leadership experience. He held 3 military occupational specialties (Field Artillery, Nuclear Weapons Tech, and Ammunition Ordnance). Mark is one of the leading military authors in the fields of leadership, counseling, and training..

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  • SGT T


    Top, informative article but I just want to mention that the Army does in fact have a dedicated PM MOS, which is 68S, and referenced in DA PAM 611-21 for the job description of the MOS, it specifically mentions being responsible for water sanitation. Whether this specifically includes the water buffalo as well I’m not here to say, but just wanted to mention there is in fact an enlisted preventative medicine MOS that the Army fields.

    • Mark Gerecht


      SGT T, Thanks for checking in. We always appreciate individuals that want to share knowledge. I will pass this information to the author. I would also like to speak with you directly concerning professional development items. If you are interested please send me your email address. Thanks Again for the Feedback!

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