By Kevin Jackson, AMCOctober 31, 2013
McALESTER, Okla. -- With the U.S. pivot policy putting a greater emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region, several of those allies paid visits to the Army ammunition plant here to share ideas and learn best munitions business practices.
Military organizations from South Korea and Singapore visited McAlester Army Ammunition Plant (MCAAP), Oct. 23 and 28, respectively, to gain firsthand insight into all aspects of demilitarization and logistics operations.
Both delegations received a traditional MCAAP mission briefing, which covered the organization's core competencies of munitions production, maintenance, demilitarization and logistics. It was followed by a plant tour that was customized to the interests of each group.
Officials from the Republic of Korea (ROK) Army's Ammunition Support Command in Daejeon, South Korea, received a windshield tour of MCAAP's demilitarization operations which included the open detonation and open burn disposal process and an outload pad. They also visited a missile and maintenance facility and an explosives magazine.
The ROK Army leaders were particularly interested in learning best practices for munitions storage and demilitarization. South Korea has become increasingly environmentally conscious in recent years.
"It's very impressive how you monitor and manage this large compound with limited resources," said Brig. Gen. Park Song-choon, commanding general, Republic of Korea Army's Ammunition Support Command through Lt. Col. Yi Won-jae who translated for him. "The visit was very helpful to understand the functions of demilitarization and storage of munitions at McAlester Army Ammunition Plant."
The ROK-U.S. alliance dates back to the Korean War, which ravaged the country from 1950-1953 and ended with the signing of the armistice agreement.
"While the root of our alliance will always be the defense of territory, building on that foundation will let us go together into the future as active strategic partners -- both here on the Korean Peninsula, and around the world," said Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel during the ROK-U.S. Alliance 60th Anniversary Dinner in Seoul, Sept. 30.
The Korean delegation's seven-day U.S. tour also included visits with the Joint Munitions Command (JMC), Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., Defense Ammunition Center (DAC), McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, Okla., and the Army Aviation and Missile Life Cycle Management Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala.
The five-person Singaporean contingent represented the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Ammunition Command and the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA). DSTA implements technology plans, acquires equipment and supplies and develops infrastructure for Singapore's Ministry of Defence.
Eugene King Chang, director of operations and support for DSTA, told MCAAP leaders that transporting and storing munitions are the biggest challenges they face in their city-state home that is only four times the size of MCAAP.
"The challenge of ammunition is where to store them," Chang said. "Our main ammunition storage is underground."
They also shared concerns about the costs and technical challenges associated with insensitive munitions that will help to mitigate safety concerns in their urbanized island nation.
"We had two very insightful visits with our allies from South Korea and Singapore," said Col. Joseph G. Dalessio, MCAAP commander. "Like us, they also face challenges, but there is much that we can learn from each other."
The Singaporeans visited with JMC at MCAAP, DAC and the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., before departing the U.S. Nov. 1.
The SAF is reputed to be the most technologically advanced military in Southeast Asia. Singaporeans have assisted with coalition operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in both military and civilian capacities.
The last international visit to MCAAP hosted by the commander was March 29, 2011. That nine-member Ecuadorian military group was led by a one-star admiral.
McAlester Army Ammunition Plant is the Department of Defense's premier bomb and warhead loading facility, and is one of 14 industrial facilities in the Joint Munitions Command. It is vital to ammunition stockpile management and delivery to the joint warfighter for training and combat operations.