CRANE, Ind. -- The 983rd Engineering Battalion based out of Monclova, Ohio, completed its annual training at Naval Support Activity Crane July 18-Aug. 14. Crane Army Ammunition Activity provided the reserve unit with housing facilities at the Crane Ammunition and Logistics Center, material handling equipment and construction materials to enable hands-on-training opportunities.
The 983rd's annual training served a dual purpose. CAAA's infrastructure was improved and while that was being done, Soldiers were able to meet their training requirements.
"You always have to train your future leaders, and that's what we're trying to do here," Master Sgt. Gene Phillips said. "I appreciate the Crane organization. They have been bending over backwards, helping us wherever they can and helping us work through different problems with special equipment. It's a win-win in our minds."
Projects completed by the 983rd included the renovation of two ammunition storage facilities, the pouring of a cement pad, the conversion of a railway to a road, a building demolition, and the creation of a truck lot. Approximately 415 reservists over the course of four weeks worked on various projects.
"We've never had an annual training where we were strictly doing construction missions," Sgt. Andrew Wuebben said. "The best part of this training has been the ability to get more hands-on-training for our Soldiers. When we deploy it's strictly construction missions, so we have to be prepared for them."
Wuebben, one of the project's leaders on one of the storage facility renovations, realized how much his Soldiers were getting out of this training, as did other project leaders. Sgt. Travis Tahy, a project leader for the other storage facility renovation site, was impressed by the complexity of the mission and the experience his Soldiers were gaining.
"Honestly, when it comes to annual training this is probably the most complex one we've ever done," Tahy said. "It's a bigger project, a bigger structure, so we had a lot more carpentry work to do, a lot more siding, and we even had concrete--usually it's one or the other. If we were tasked with electrical it would be the perfect annual training because that's pretty much all of our military occupation specialties."
As the reservists gained experience, CAAA gained improvements in infrastructure in several areas on the base. These improvements would have been costly if the 983rd had not completed their annual training at Crane. Through the help of the reservists Crane Army was able to complete these projects while saving approximately $2,596,345.
"The projects would have happened without the reservists, but they're happening much faster than they would through the normal process," Steve Cummings, CAAA operations center coordinator, said. "It's a huge cost avoidance for us. How fast we get the projects done, and the fact that it's a win-win for the reservists and CAAA is nice."
Not only do these projects impact Crane Army from a financial perspective, but they also effect CAAA daily operations. Depot Operations is one directorate that was specifically impacted by the rail-to-road mission carried out by the reservists.
"The reason the rails project was set up by CAAA was for our quick response magazines," Cummings said. "We can put our fast moving material in those magazines. Once the project is completed, it will increase our efficiency and effectiveness."
The completion of these projects are important to both Crane Army employees and the reservists, as both are benefitting.
"This mission is completely unlike anything that I or anyone else on my team has done before," 1st Lt. Timothy Bauer, the officer in charge of the project, said. "Just the shear unconventional nature of the project has kept the troops interested, and the uniqueness of this project is something that the troops will be able to take with them anywhere."
The mission required Bauer and his team to adapt and adjust as the project went on. "I've never worked with rails before, so it was definitely a good experience," Spc. Matthew Riddle said. "Once we figured out our routine, it went a lot faster and we made it work."
Reservists worked with Crane Army engineers to plan and estimate the projects. Louis Warren, a CAAA engineer, provided guidance and worked with Soldiers on many of their projects, including their rails-to-road mission.
"They seem to be doing well, and that project is a challenge," Warren said. "The railroad is kind of a different animal in the construction arena. They adjusted and figured out what needs to be done."
Throughout their time on base, Warren visited the project sites to check on the reservists. While on site he noticed the benefits for both CAAA and the Soldiers. "We're getting some work accomplished and they're getting their training," Warren said. "So it's dual, we're getting two things done at the same time."
"We have had small missions similar to this, but these missions are icing on the cake," Phillips said. "There is so much to do, and at Crane the Soldiers have the opportunity to get out there, use their equipment and actually do the task that the Army trained them to do. It's a great facility with a lot of opportunities."
Established Oct. 1977, Crane Army Ammunition Activity produces and provides logistical support to meet conventional munitions requirements in support of Joint Force readiness. It is one of 14 installations of the Joint Munitions Command and one of 23 organic industrial bases under the U.S. Army Materiel Command, which include arsenals, depots, activities and ammunition plants.