HAWTHORNE ARMY DEPOT, Nev. (August 3, 2009) -Hawthorne Army Depot is one of six locations supporting a nationwide, joint military exercise this year. The exercise, Golden Cargo, is a joint task force mission sponsored by the Joint Munitions Command (JMC) consisting of Army Reservists, Sailors, and Marines who will focus on demilitarizing and transporting ammunition for the three week exercise which started July 12.

The exercise is divided into two geographic regions; East and West. Golden Cargo West consists of Sierra Army Depot, Herlong, Calif., and Hawthorne. Every depot offers training; however, Hawthorne provides a unique opportunity for hands-on, real-life training and terrain to better prepare servicemembers for overseas missions.

Throughout the annual training, demilitarized munitions, or ammunition that are no longer fit for military purpose, are transported by the servicemembers from Herlong to Hawthorne. Munitions are dropped off here so that they can be rendered inert.

The daily operations require constant interaction between government, contracted, and civilian workers and all branches of service. Hawthorne provides a perfect environment partly due to its mission and its size, with the largest volume of demilitarized ammunition in the country. It has over 3,000 bunks storing ammunition powder to be re-sold to private enterprise, said Karen Hackett, JMC, Golden Cargo Program Manager.

Training is made even more realistic at Hawthorne for another reason; deadlines. Here, servicemembers unload all of the cargo, refuel their trucks, set everything back into the Palletized Loading System vehicles and finish all the proper documentations within one hour, said Senior Chief Pablo Rosado, Naval Cargo Handling Battalion 1, Williamsburg, Va.

Since the task consists of handling explosive materials, safety is the most eminent objective, said Lt. Col. David A. Roscoe, commander, Golden Cargo AO West.

To ensure all missions are executed efficiently and safely, everyone must wear their proper gear which includes a helmet, gloves, goggles and steel-toe boots if necessary. Drinking water is also a concern, especially in an environment similar to that of Afghanistan. "Hydration is a priority and a constant reminder for the Soldiers participating in Golden Cargo," said Roscoe.

Army Reserve and active-duty Navy servicemembers also receive specialized training in logistics, shipping and handling, inventory, storage planning, transportation, movement control, life support operations, safety, hazardous materials handling and leadership throughout the annual training.

"This is the first time that I have ever seen training on this grand of a scale with different military components all working together," said Rosado.

One of the biggest challenges is effective communication, said Rosado. There are times when things are left to the last-minute, nevertheless, the purpose of training is to correct faults when they exist and that's what this is about, he said.

"We train like we fight and we fight like we train," said Rosado.

The Golden Cargo training exercise first began in 1991 as a result of the need to move material from sites that had been affected by recommendations of the Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commissions, said Hackett.

Participation in Golden Cargo has grown steadily over the years because the active Army, Army National Guard, Army Reserve, and other services have all recognized it offers an important and unique opportunity, she said.

Golden Cargo is the best opportunity in the nation to provide hands-on training for servicemembers, said Roscoe. It gives Soldiers a sense of real mission accomplishment and it gives them an opportunity to work with other components as they would do in a war, he said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16