By Mr. Thomas Peske (AMC)January 23, 2018
CRANE, Ind. - Weather can never be a factor in weakening the readiness of the U.S. military and likewise, weather can never be a factor in weakening the munitions readiness they receive from the Organic Industrial Base. That is why hard-working civilians at Crane Army Ammunition Activity endured the recent spell of frigid temperatures and snowy conditions - to ensure every Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine has the ammo they need.
CAAA Depot Operations personnel safely executed multiple ammunition outloads Jan. 12-13, to meet the munitions requirements during heavy snow, low light, and extreme cold conditions to ensure the Warfighter would have what is needed at the speed of war.
"I heard no complaints, just great people doing their job for the Warfighter, safely and with pride in their work," Dennis Sickel, depot operations deputy director, said. The fact that mission was met without any incidents or accidents added to his pride in how the workforce came together.
Providing munitions readiness requires a team effort throughout Crane Army, but is especially tough when nature turns ugly. With outdoor storage magazines and loading docks, plus miles of roads and rail, Crane Army crews must endure hot Indiana summers and frigid Midwest winters. Crews faced a variety of challenges including freezing air hose lines, clearing covered rail line switches and plowing the roads to various magazines.
CAAA Railroad Operations Supervisor Robert England stated the weather challenged his crews to keep the lines open and active. "Currently all rail switches must be cleaned manually by hand with brooms, shovels and a primitive blower system we have adapted from the engine," he explained. "The current situation is not totally uncommon and during the event itself it is almost impossible to keep ahead of how much snow or ice we get but we pushed forward as best we could. After the event we can start to clean and deice equipment for future operations."
England added that CAAA rail operations are looking at innovative ways to improve the clearing process and make it less labor intensive for the crews. He said, "I am working on a weed-eater style brush system that will help eliminate some of the manual labor in the process. Also we have in the past borrowed the rail maintenance personnel to assist in the cleaning of switches as they have a rail mounted truck to access switches that aren't accessible by foot."
While the base offered employees a chance to take liberal leave if they could not make it to work, supervisors reported employees willingness to come in and ensure mission was met.
"The main reason I think we have the ability to overcome such challenges is our workforce. They are willing to come to work in the bad weather," Tom Sorrells, supervisor for blockers and bracers at CAAA, said. "Last Friday I had one employee who even came in early and cleaned our lots and doorways so we were able to start work at 6:30 a.m. That is just one example of the "can do" attitude the CAAA workforce has."
Crane Army Ammunition Activity produces and provides conventional munitions requirements in support of U.S. Army and 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. Established Oct. 1977, it is located on Naval Support Activity Crane.