Pine Bluff Arsenal's work with the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense has expanded in recent years to include new technologies. One of these projects, under the JPO directorate Joint Project Manager Guardian, is the Chemical Reconnaissance and Explosives Screening Set or CRESS.
"CRESS is designed to be a consumable item," said Jordan Freer, project manager with the Arsenal's Directorate of Engineering and Technology. "It uses color metric technology to identify Homemade Explosives or HME precursors. This product is intended to be a quick and simple method for the Soldier to identify these types of explosives in the field."
Freer said the kit can screen for dangerous fuel and oxidizer chemicals such as perchlorate, urea, nitrate, and ammonium.
A Milestone C decision, which is a Milestone Decision Authority led review that comes at the end of the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase of the Defense Acquisition Process. The purpose of this decision, which came in June 2018 for CRESS, is to make a recommendation/seek approval to begin the production phase.
"This is the first time this item has been produced. Advanced Design Manufacturing in conjunction with JPM Guardian, and the Arsenal were involved in some early test assets prior to the Milestone C decision," he said. "Our funding came in July/August 2018."
Freer said First Article Testing on CRESS was completed June 2019. "This quick turnaround is a testament a lot of teamwork between us, JPM Guardian and ADM," he said. "This has been a great partnership across the board. We have tried to pick the best strategies for procurement of materials and equipment. Some of the materials and equipment were government furnished materials. For a production product the turnaround was quick."
Ten of the machines used to manufacture CRESS, which is housed at Bldg. 63-210 and produced by approximately six personnel, were designed by Dr. Raef Tadros, a chemist with PBA's Directorate of Engineering and Technology. Tadros worked in conjunction with Jerry (Rusty) Hudson, who works in the machine shop for the Directorate of Public Works, who fabricated and built the assembly equipment.
The Arsenal is funded to CRESS samplers. "There are five samplers in the set. We are slated to complete the production by the end of the fiscal year," said Freer. "Production started in July. After this production run is complete, this project will transition to TACOM. I don't really see any future orders really soon. The intent is to get these fielded quickly."
According to Freer, the CRESS sets will be fielded to nine U.S. Army Infantry Brigade Combat Teams. The nine ICBTs are made up of seven Active United and two National Guard Units.