By Mr. Tony Lopez (AMC)June 21, 2017
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Mike Walsh, Quality Assurance Ammunition Surveillance ammo expert, was recently recognized as the Department of the Army's QASAS of the Year, for Fiscal Year 2017.
Walsh was selected by the QASAS career program as a result of the annual formal career program review process. Each year, careerists at each grade level are evaluated and ranked by board members. Those that are ranked the highest for each of their respective pay grades are bestowed the honor of QASAS of the Year. Walsh was selected as the GS-13 grade recipient.
The QASAS Career Program was established on March 22, 1920, making it the oldest Federal civilian career program. QASAS have deployed during WWII, Korea, Vietnam, various wars in the Middle East and even smaller events like Grenada and Panama. Wherever Soldiers go, QASAS go to provide ammunition surveillance and explosives safety support. QASAS personnel are assigned as ammunition advisors to combatant commanders.
QASAS personnel are forward deployed with Soldiers in countries like Iraq or Afghanistan where you hear the occasional small-caliber fire or a mortar round exploding somewhere within your area. That's the life of Quality Assurance Ammunition Surveillance expert in the field. Walsh has been deployed four times to include Iraq, Haiti and Afghanistan. He started his career as a QASAS after completing his training at Savanna Army Depot in 1992.
Walsh has served in many situations during his 26-year career. During one deployment, he supported the 'Relief in Place' or 'Transfer of Authority' effort at a forward operating base in Ramadi, Iraq.
"Working together with the unit leadership the operation worked like clockwork," said Walsh. "Each outbound tank crew downloaded their ammunition and placed it on a tarp on the ground. I inspected each round and the serviceable ones were then handed up to the inbound tank crew. Any defective rounds were marked, tagged and packed back into a container for shipment to the Ammunition Supply Point for replacement."
When deployed, QASAS bring many areas of expertise to the field, such as explosives safety, ammo packaging and safe handling procedures. Their core duty is ammunition inspection of ammo returned by using units. QASAS have the expertise to oversee or perform ammo inspections which effectively separate and segregate good ammo from bad. This "recycling" effort allows good ammo to be repackaged and retained in storage or reissued to Soldiers when needed. This effort alone reduces the logistical pressures of moving ammo forward across the battlefield. Any reduction in commodity movement saves not only money, but exposes fewer haulers to the dangers and hazards of operating in a combat zone.
Walsh enjoys his role as a QASAS in the field. "I enjoy my job because of the impact that it has on supporting the Soldiers. I do my best each day to continue the QASAS legacy for the Army. Soldiers should not have to wonder if their ammunition will function when they need it."
The QASAS mission includes: establishing an ammunition surveillance program to determine the condition of the ammunition stockpile; establishing procedures that assure ammunition is safe for storage, handling and use; performing inspections on all Class V materials; performing explosives safety surveys, mishap and malfunction investigations and inspections on explosives operations and facilities; and, maintaining a database on the serviceability/readiness and suspension/restriction status of the ammunition stockpile.
Walsh works at the Joint Munitions Command, headquartered at the Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island, Illinois. "Here at JMC I work with many different teammates from different backgrounds and career fields. As the JMC Administrator for the Munitions History Program, I assist the JMC and outside the continental United States Army Ammunition Depots with managing the personnel involved in ammunition surveillance operations, and review new or updated access requests from Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, Sailors, Contractors and Civilians throughout the world." He recently has served as the QAS Data System Team Lead and for the past few months has served as the QAS Combat Ammunition System Team Lead.
JMC produces small-, medium- and large-caliber ammunition items for the Department of Defense. JMC is the sustainment and logistics integrator for life-cycle management of ammunition and provides a global presence of technical support to U.S. combat units wherever they are stationed or deployed. The primary mission of JMC is to manage the production, storage, issue, and demilitarization of conventional ammunition for all U.S. Military Services.