By Kevin Jackson, AMCApril 28, 2016
McALESTER ARMY AMMUNITION PLANT, Okla. -- Army ammunition technicians now have the opportunity to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the ammunition supply chain -- from the Pentagon through the organic industrial base and down to the individual Soldier -- by touring the storage and production facility here as part of a new phase of warrant officer training.
Eight Warrant Officer Advanced Course Ammunition Technician Phase II students visited the plant April 11-21 to gain first-hand insight into the munitions business. It was the second iteration of the new portion of the course, which was first offered in December.
The phase two training is designed to reinforce classroom instruction the Combined Arms Support Command provides during a seven-week phase one course at its Army Logistics University, Fort Lee, Virginia.
"Being able to see this was really the last piece of the puzzle," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua Grimes, an ammunition technician for the 1st Special Forces Group at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
It can be a challenge to visualize depot-level operations," Grimes said. "Now we have the complete picture."
Since completing the Non-Commissioned Officer Education System for the ammunition specialty, Grimes said he and his classmates gained increasing levels of ammunition training before they became warrant officers, the technical experts in their field.
Classroom instruction at MCAAP covered the Logistics Modernization Program; business development, including public-private partnerships; the Army Working Capital Fund, including planning, programming, budgeting and execution; Lean Six Sigma; and an overview of engineering.
However, most of the time was spent touring the MCAAP's storage, production and demilitarization facilities where, in some cases, the students were able to get hands-on instruction. They visited storage facilities where they learned about safety, blocking and bracing for shipping, long-range planning and conducting inventory. The students also observed production of the Excalibur, Joint Stand-Off Weapon, general purpose bombs and the demilitarization of obsolete and unserviceable 105-mm projectiles.
The visit exposed students to a variety of munitions from the 105-mm projectile to 2,000-pound general purpose bombs.
"We got to see some of the ammunition that we actually deal with -- the 105, the 155 and the Stinger," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Errol Charles, an instructor from the ALU. "A lot of the training was new to us like the Air Force and Navy bombs, but it was good to also see the others types of munitions that are not in the Army inventory."
The visits were also meaningful for MCAAP civilian employees who were eager to thank the Soldiers for their service. Grimes said their enthusiastic greetings gave him reason to pause and reflect on the contributions of the civilian workforce.
"A lot of times as a Soldier, you tend to think of your battle buddy to your left and right as being a green suiter. To come to a place like this with civilians, you get to see that these guys are also your battle buddies," he said. "These guys are also helping you sustain the warfighter."
Graduates of the WOAC are typically assigned as ammunition managers where they work for a brigade commander and others may run an ammunition supply point. They are responsible for receipt, storage and issue of conventional ammunition and its components. They may also investigate ammunition accidents and malfunctions, as well as prepare contingency plans for ammunition storage and security.
Grimes and some of his classmates took advantage to gain some hands-on experience whenever it was permissible, and it was clear he enjoys his work.
"I'm very hands-on," he said. "It was my favorite part of the training. I like it any time they let me handle some ammunition."
MCAAP is one of 14 installations of the Joint Munitions Command and one of 23 organic industrial base facilities under the U.S. Army Materiel Command.