New dawn for ammunition as Iraq drawdown hits full steam
August 8, 2011
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq (Army News Service, Aug. 8, 2011) On time, every time. That is the promise of the Joint Munitions Command and from all accounts it is living up to its word supplying the warfighter with ammunition during combat. Now, with combat operations officially over, units are drawing down in Iraq. It’s a new day, a new dawn here, but the pace is just as hectic when it comes to moving ammunition.
As forwarding operating bases close, ammunition is shipped to a supply point where it is sorted, inspected, classified and re-packaged for re-issue or designated to be demilitarized. JMC deploys technical advisers to assist units with ammunition turn-in and they are responsible for turning it around.
Jim Wettlaufer’s title is quality assurance specialist ammunition surveillance, or QASAS. He deployed from Hawthorne Army Depot in Hawthorne, Nev., to work with the 402nd Army Field Support Brigade in Iraq. He is the lead civilian in a team of Soldiers who sort through box-loads of turn-in.
“The job here is a faster pace and more variety of ammo. It does make me appreciate air conditioning, stencil machines and factory packaging. Right now we are sending items to Kuwait in as close to factory pack as we can"being in a field environment,” Wettlaufer said.
Back home he works with a civilian workforce where he is one of many ammunition experts. In Iraq, his team consists of young Soldiers eager to learn.
“I have many Soldiers who start out afraid of ammo or just the opposite, they are reckless with it. I try to teach them to respect ammo and not fear it and understand its capabilities and to not be complacent with it. It is important that we, as QASAS, get it right, because ammunition is safe and reliable only when it is handled properly,” Wettlaufer said.
When they receive it, the ammunition is a hodgepodge of items in varying condition. Imagine tree lights at Christmastime. Who wants to de-tangle that lot, especially when it’s a box of 40-millimeter high explosive dual purpose rounds? Yet, that is what Wettlaufer and his team do every day.
Whether it is bricks of C4 plastic explosive or M-67 fragmentation hand grenades, it is all inspected, prettied up and repackaged for another round.