By Mrs. Rachel C Selby (AMC)September 16, 2019
PINE BLUFF ARSENAL, Ark. -- Pine Bluff Arsenal hosted Brig. Gen. Michelle M.T. Letcher, Commanding General, Joint Munitions Command on Sept. 16. The visit was part of a quarterly update of the munitions organic industrial base (OIB), and JMC's subordinate arsenals, depots, ammunition plants and activities.
Letcher met with commanders Col. Luis Ortiz, PBA, and Lt. Col. Anthony Kazor, Commander, Radford Army Ammunition Plant, along with Joseph Kennedy, Jr., Commander's Representative from Holston Army Ammunition Plant, as well as PBA's key leadership.
Holston's portion of the update, presented by Kennedy, focused on four issues: Industrial Waste Water, Open Burning, RDX Expansion and ANSOL.
"The good news for the past 12 months is we have been fully compliant," said Kennedy of the industrial waste water issues. "We have also been successful with our public forum meetings in regards to open burning issues. Our next forum is scheduled for January 2020."
Radford's update, presented by Kazor, focused on the plant's Nitrocellulose Modernization and the EWI/CWP Modernization Projects. Updated on both project's current status, project schedule and path forward for the next 90 days was presented.
Letcher remained focused on contractual timelines that deliver readiness to the Warfighter. "Clearly what Joe (Kennedy) and Lt. Col. Kazor are briefing me is important to our modernization efforts but more importantly, delivering readiness. . I want to ensure leaders at all levels continue to drive these projects across the finish line," Letcher stated.
During the Arsenal's portion of the briefing, Ortiz explained several areas the Arsenal is contributing to Army Readiness. He specifically highlighted accountability and auditability.
Letcher suggested using Pine Bluff's supply management as a model for best practice across the other JMC installation struggling with hand receipt inventories.
Some milestones were also highlighted by Ortiz about the Dismounted Reconnaissance, Sets, Kits and Outfits projects. "This project was initiated with less than $12 million in funding. The Arsenal has provided significant savings to the Army, and is the sole producer of DRSKO due to a contract expiration by a civilian company," he said. "We are currently doing production order up until the year 2025 and then will provide sustainment."
Ortiz said the expert work with DRSKO by PBA has translated into work on another production item -- the Analytical Laboratory System-Modified Work Order. "These mobile labs are used to provide homeland security to our nation," he said, explaining this area was on the general's afternoon tour schedule.
The Arsenal commander provided some facts about the M18 colored smoke grenade production. "The Arsenal has produced approximately four million grenades without a failed acceptance test," he said. "We will also tour this area this afternoon. The Arsenal is on track with production orders through fiscal year 2022 with expected buys through fiscal year 2025."
Safety was another big milestone for Pine Bluff with Ortiz reporting an estimated 2.1 million plus hours worked without a lost time injury.
During the afternoon, Letcher toured and observed production at four of PBA's critical mission capabilities including strategic ammunition and chemical biological defense production area, highlighted by the Arsenal's professional, state-of-the-art workforce.
Tour stops included M18 colored smoke grenade production, a long-standing mission at Pine Bluff for 60-plus years; the Analytical Laboratory System-Modified Work Order, used by the National Guard for analyzing chemical warfare agents, and other industrial/biological agents; M8E1 Chemical Biological Protective Shelter facility, another long-standing mission for PBA in the area of production, repair and refurbishment; and large filter production.
Pine Bluff Arsenal, established Nov. 3, 1941, is "America's Arsenal" and provides critical capabilities to the Warfighter with specialized ammunition including illuminating, infrared, phosphorus and smoke, as well as varied chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense needs. It is one of 17 installations of the Joint Munitions Command, and one of 23 OIBs under the U.S. Army Materiel Command.