Demilitarization of Army legacy COMSEC saves money and time
August 8, 2013
Project Director, Communications Security (PD COMSEC) recently saw the removal of more than 182,000 legacy cryptographic items from the Army inventory.
Removing the items from the inventory has increased the amount of available space at Tobyhanna Army Depot (TYAD), freed up acquisition resources for PD COMSEC and reduced the number of man hours spent inventorying items that are no longer in use.
"Due to the systemic lack of funding for many years, very limited demilitarization was being conducted on Army COMSEC equipment, this caused a large stockpile to accumulate at the Army depot," said Dennis Teefy, the Product Director (PdD) for Cryptographic Systems (CS) at PD COMSEC. "Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) Communications Security Logistics Activity (CSLA) worked to prioritize and seek the necessary funding that allowed for the destruction of more than 182,000 pieces of end item cryptographic units. Additionally, all secondary or ancillary items which supported the end item were either demilitarized thru other venues, were recycled, or turned into the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office (DRMO)."
Working with the Tobyhanna Army Depot and CSLA to remove the equipment has provided both PD COMSEC and TYAD a number of benefits.
"I'm limited in the number of equipment or family of systems allowed in the Army inventory, said Teefy. If the Army continues to hold onto legacy equipment that it is no longer going to be used, I am not able to procure modern equipment necessary to protect our Network. Running these items through the demilitarization process freed up space to procure items that Soldiers need in the field.
Removing the legacy items not only freed up acquisition resources for PD COMSEC, but it also saved the Army man hours.
"Because the items are considered Controlled Cryptographic Items (CCI), they needed to be inventoried every six months," Teefy said. "That's 182,000 pieces of equipment with a total value of over $910M that we haven't used in years that no longer need to be counted by hand."
Removing the 182,000 items from Tobyhanna also increased the amount of shelf space available at the depot for storage and transfer of other items actively being used.
"Space approved by National Security Agency to stock and store COMSEC for the Army is an important and limited commodity at the depot," Teefy said. "When you have hundreds of pallet spaces filled with legacy or scrap items, the result is a waste of money, resources and space that could be used for other systems."
The demilitarization process is also important to protecting the Army by ensuring items are destroyed in such a way that no secret information can be taken from them.
"For the sake of COMSEC, demilitarization takes place to ensure all controlled components are destroyed beyond recognition," said Chris Ward, chief, national maintenance point for CSLA. "The only Army authorized facility that can perform the demilitarization action on COMSEC is TYAD."
The demilitarization process involves having a technician take the equipment apart and remove any sensitive components. All the non-sensitive pieces are sent for recycling, while the sensitive components are taken to a certified smelter by escort. The smelting process is witnessed by government officials to ensure all components of the items are fully destroyed.
The partnership between PD COMSEC, CSLA and TYAD ensures the process is smooth and efficient.
"It was really a team effort," Teefy said. "CSLA did the major effort of getting the money, prioritizing the assets for the project while Tobyhanna executed the effort in an extremely efficient manner."
With the successful removal of the items, PD COMSEC in conjunction with CLSA is now working on a new approach to demilitarize legacy items as soon as they come in from the field.
"Legacy items are pre-identified and sent straight into maintenance for demilitarization, instead of bringing them into the depot, storing them and then eventually pulling them back off the shelves to demilitarize them at a later date," Teefy said. "The team is capitalizing on the fact that the Army knows that it is not going to have a use for the legacy items. In order to be efficient, TYAD consolidates equipment in a holding area and they are scheduled for bulk demilitarization once funds are allocated."
This new effort has gained tremendous savings for the Army and has become an enduring process.