CRANE, Ind. - The 411th Ordnance Battalion out of Billings, Montana, developed mission-critical ammunition skills while conducting its annual training at Crane Army Ammunition Activity July 15-29.
The training provided Soldiers with practical experience in ammunition inspections, blocking and bracing operations, demilitarization, logistics, vehicle maintenance and firefighter drills.
"Our Soldiers are preparing ammunition for transport, conducting quality control inspections, demilitarizing ordnance, coordinating paperwork and equipment movements, everything needed to move ammo," Capt. Adam Kellnhofer, company commander for the 411th, said. "Some Soldiers are handling munitions they've never even seen before. This training will greatly aid them in future operations."
Crane Army produces, stores, inspects, transports and demilitarizes a quarter of the United States' conventional munitions. With its reputation for ammunition management and the large scale of its operations, CAAA was the 411th's clear choice for providing Soldiers with hands-on training.
"Our Soldiers never receive any practical training with managing, processing, planning, or ordering actual ammunition," Lt. Col. Steven Geisler, commander of the 411th Ordnance Battalion, said. "We needed to learn those skills."
The Soldiers handled ammunition alongside CAAA's experienced civilian employees who perform these operations full time. Learning from skilled civilian professionals helped Soldiers increase skillsets and provided a more realistic working environment.
"Handling all kinds of ammunition and working with civilian specialists at Crane Army is really great," Spc. Ross Cunningham said. "I recently returned from Afghanistan, and the work we're doing here is just like what I did when deployed."
Annual training at Crane Army is mutually beneficial to both the Soldiers and CAAA.
"The Soldiers helped a lot with some time-consuming, labor-intensive mission that could not be completed as quickly as originally planned," David Daugherty, munitions destroyer supervisor at CAAA, said. "Their hard work allowed us to meet important deadlines."
The Soldiers' experience was not limited to ordnance logistics. Crane's unique variety of Army and Navy commands provided a greater opportunity to train the battalion's ammo handlers, mechanics, firefighters and battalion and training staff. Other Soldiers in the battalion with different specialties conducted annual training elsewhere.
"In addition to ammunition handling and coordination, we have Soldiers in a maintenance crew servicing vehicles on post," Kellnhofer said. "We also have a fireman crew of two Soldiers working alongside Naval Support Activity Crane firefighters. Hands-on training with experienced professionals is the number one benefit Soldiers can receive."
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 base installations under the U.S. Army Materiel Command, which include arsenals, depots, activities and ammunition plants.