By Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael K. LimaDecember 11, 2017
Unit commanders in the Republic of Korea (ROK) must ensure that their combat loads are always ready for contingency operations. Specifically, they must have their ammunition ready for the fight.
An ammunition combat load (ACL) is the standard quantity and type of munitions needed to support the initiation of combat operations. The ACL is based on an individual weapon, crew-served weapon, or a weapons platform and what the unit's designated munitions carriers are designed to hold.
In the continental United States, units typically are not authorized to have ACLs on hand. A completed Department of the Army (DA) Form 581, Request for Issue and Turn-in of Ammunition, satisfies the command inspection program requirement for on-hand or on-order ACLs. A far different approach is required in the Korean theater of operations (KTO), where the enemy is right next door.
AMMUNITION MANAGEMENT IN THE KTO
U.S. Forces Korea and the ROK Ministry of National Defense established the Single Ammunition Logistics System-Korea through a 1974 memorandum of agreement. Under the agreement, the United States owns U.S. ammunition and provides for its accountability, surveillance, and maintenance production control.
The ROK receives, stores, and provides maintenance, security, and all intratheater movement between storage points for U.S.-owned conventional ground ammunition. The KTO support activity unit that provides direct surveillance and accountability of U.S. ammunition and has direct oversight of all ammunition is the 6th Ordnance Battalion, Materiel Support Command-Korea, 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command (ESC).
The 6th Ordnance Battalion is the Army's only active and wartime host-nation support ordnance battalion. It maintains all U.S. ammunition and explosives in the KTO and, using ROK army support and equipment, conducts daily combined ammunition operations with ROK army ammunition units at ROK depots and ammunition supply points (ASPs).
The 6th Ordnance Battalion and its three subordinate companies are located throughout several installations in Areas I through IV to perform the U.S. functions of accountability and surveillance. These companies are the liaisons between U.S. Army units and the ROK-operated ammunition depots and ASPs.
Korean national employees and Korean Service Corps personnel are also assigned to the 6th Ordnance Battalion. These personnel conduct inventory, issue, turn-in, retrograde, call forward, demilitarization, Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services turn-in, interdepot transfer, and air/pier operations.
STORED COMBAT LOADS
Ideally, the unit's ACL should be on-hand or easily accessible at the nearest supply point so that the unit is ready for combat operations. In many cases, units can store ammunition in an ammunition holding area. When the unit cannot store all of its ammunition because of a hazard or net explosive weight restrictions, it must have a stored combat load (SCL).
The SCL is the portion of the ACL that cannot be stored on the installation. SCLs are maintained on the ordnance company's stock accounting record. Units maintain property book entries to indicate where their SCLs are located, but they do not necessarily own the ammunition. In Korea, many units have both an ACL and an SCL. SCL is a KTO-specific term.
ACL management begins with the Total Ammunition Management Information System (TAMIS). This real-time, web-based system is used to process, store, and retrieve information regarding ammunition requirements, authorizations, forecasts, and expenditures.
ACL requirements data, based on approved modified tables of organization and equipment (MTOEs) and tables of distribution and allowances (TDAs), is loaded into TAMIS during the fourth quarter of each fiscal year. TAMIS uses the information to populate each unit's ammunition requirements.
Authorizations must be available and entered by the Eighth Army G-3/7 Training, Readiness, and Exercise Division before any combat loads are ordered. These authorizations are based on MTOE and TDA data and the U.S. Army Pacific G-3/7 and Army G-3/5/7 validation of requirements. ACL validation is based on the required weapons, weapons platforms, and personnel listed on the unit's MTOE or TDA.
The combat load manager must order each unit's ACL, SCL, or a combination of both. Combat load mangers request the quantity of ammunition that the unit can store in its authorized locations. Location authorizations come from the local installation safety officer or explosives safety officer who issues an annual site license for storage locations. The storage location is most often an arms room, but it can also be an ammunition holding area that is controlled by the garrison or assigned to a specific unit to operate.
The ammunition request is completed online in TAMIS, and then it must be approved by the unit's higher headquarters and validated by its property book officer. The request is then validated by the 19th ESC.
Once the request is validated, the unit receives the ammunition from the ASP or ammunition depot. The ammunition is then placed on the unit property book and stored in the unit's authorized storage location.
Just like the ACL, the SCL must be ordered in TAMIS and approved by the higher headquarters and validated by the property book officer and the 19th ESC. But unlike the ACL, SCL ammunition will not be picked up. In TAMIS, the requested pickup date will be the last day of the fiscal year. The request will stay open throughout the fiscal year so that the ammunition can be rapidly accessed for contingency operations.
While the ammunition is not assigned to the unit, it is grouped by major subordinate command using an ammunition account code given by the 19th ESC when the document is validated in TAMIS. The ammunition account code allows the ASP to separate ammunition that is set aside for unit combat loads from all other training and operational stocks.
Units must ensure that all on-hand ammunition is available for inspections by the servicing ordnance company's quality assurance specialist (ammunition surveillance) ACL inspector.
The combat load inspection assesses the unit's authorization, property book, inventory, security, storage, maintenance, suspension, and restriction control processes. It also ensures the unit has the necessary publications regarding these procedures.
This inspection is conducted annually to ensure the serviceability and reliability of ACLs. A review of ACL retrieval and distribution plans is also conducted semiannually.
Each unit with an SCL exercises its retrieval plan every six months. Retrieval procedures are conducted in accordance with the standard operating procedure of the servicing ordnance company and Eighth U.S. Army Regulation 700-3, Conventional Ammunition. Each SCL packet consists of a memorandum from the ACL inspector that approves SCL storage, an approved and validated DA Form 581 and a Department of Defense Form 626, Motor Vehicle Inspection (Transporting Hazardous Materials), and DA Form 7598, Vehicle Load Card, for each vehicle used for the SCL.
Once the ordnance company receives and verifies all documents, the unit conducts an SCL retrieval exercise at the depot or ASP. Each SCL request is matched to a physical stock in a storage location, and empty ammunition boxes are placed in front of the location to simulate the unit's SCL.
The unit is given a "go" or "no-go" for the exercise. No-go's typically result from a complete disregard for the retrieval plan--for example, bringing one vehicle for a plan that requires six or more prime movers with trailers.
Armistice operations in the KTO are a never-ending endeavor to be ready to "Fight Tonight." A unit's ACL is just one of the many items that must be ready at a moment's notice when combat operations begin.
Briefing commanders on what their combat loads are, where they are located, how they can be accessed, and how long it will take to retrieve them ensures units' ammunition is ready. Having this information will allow commanders to determine if the current process is acceptable or needs to be adjusted.
Continual turnovers of combat load mangers degrades the readiness of unit-level ammunition management, but continual turnover is the nature of the KTO. Commanders must ensure they have a continuity book that identifies ACL processes. They must also ensure that systems, including share portals and drives, are in place for when there are large gaps between a combat load manager's departure and the replacement's arrival. Ultimately, commanders must understand how ammunition gets into the hands of the troops. Contingency operations are not the time or place to figure out how the ammunition process works.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael K. Lima is the ammunition warrant officer for the 10th Regional Support Group at Torri Station in Okinawa, Japan. He was previously the battalion senior warrant officer for the 6th Ordnance Battalion and the accountable officer for the 52nd Ordnance Company in the ROK. He holds a doctorate in business administration and an MBA from the Baker College Center for Graduate Studies. He is a graduate of the Warrant Officer Basic and Advanced Courses.
This article is an Army Sustainment magazine product.