By Kevin Jackson, AMCFebruary 9, 2017
McALESTER ARMY AMMUNITION PLANT, Okla. -- Oklahoma and Missouri Army National Guard Soldiers did more than just deliver retrograde munitions here, Jan. 26, through the transportation mission they contributed to the training and readiness of everyone involved.
As part of Operation Patriot Bandoleer, the Army National Guardsmen drove 60 tractor trailer trucks across the country to deliver 70 containers of War Reserve Stockpile for Allies-Korea retrograde from South Korea.
The more than 3,400-mile roundtrip mission involved picking up containers of ammunition at Military Ocean Terminal Concord, California, and delivering them to the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, or MCAAP, where they are demilitarized.
MCAAP typically receives two WRSA-K retrograde shipments by rail or truck each year, said Bob Impson, warehousing supervisor for the Directorate of Depot Operations at MCAAP.
The recent shipment of obsolete and unserviceable 155 mm artillery rounds was put in storage where they will remain until they are demilitarized, which involves removing the supplementary charges and submunitions. The old shell casings are then reused in the manufacture of M1122 artillery rounds for training.
While the transportation and cycle of ammunition contributes to military readiness, the participation of Oklahoma and Missouri Army National Guard units in Operation Patriot Bandoleer provides real-world training and contributes multicomponent interoperability.
One of the units, the OKARNG's 1345th Transportation Company, typically performs palletized loading system, or PLS, missions. The movement and distribution management of ammunition across country was a mission the Soldiers from Mustang, Okla.-based unit welcomed.
"The Soldiers' morale has been high throughout," said Capt. Douglas Paulsen, operations office for the Oklahoma Army National Guard's 700th Brigade Support Battalion, which is the higher headquarters of the 1345th Transportation Co.
"It was a chance to drive outside Oklahoma to see and do something different. It's been received well by the Soldiers."
The Missouri Army National Guard's 1221st Transportation Co. "road warriors" are well acquainted with the Operation Patriot Bandoleer, having participated in September 2016.
"The Missouri National Guard is always working to create rewarding training experiences for the Soldiers and participating in Operation Patriot Bandoleer is real world, challenging training they are prepared for," said 1st Sgt. Gary Burchell, first sergeant for the 1221st Transportation Co.
"It served a dual purpose - as training for new military drivers as well as enhancing the unit readiness for future deployments or state emergency duties. This gave our soldiers an opportunity to hone skills that are important to any mission."
Collectively, Operation Patriot Bandoleer exercises "One Army Indivisible" -- all components and Department of Army Civilians -- thereby contributing to readiness, which is the Army's top priority. Materiel readiness is the reason Army Materiel Command exists and MCAAP contributes to it through the production, storage, distribution and demilitarization of munitions.
"This exercise is one of many examples of how the Total Army works together in a seamless effort to sustain the readiness of the force,' said Col. Sean M. Herron, MCAAP commander.
"Combining the tools of active, reserve, civilians and uniformed service members to accomplish a mission keeps us all ready to answer the nation's call. We look forward to more opportunities to train together and test our skills in the future."
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.