CRANE, Ind. - A malfunction report reduced the Marine Corps' total red smoke mortar stock by 75 percent. The malfunction was the result of a red phosphorous formulation emitting higher than normal levels of phosphine gas. Crane Army Ammunition Activity provided a quick, reliable solution to get mortars into the hands of the warfighter.

The Department of Defense selected Crane Army to provide the Marines with a renewed stock of mortar cartridges. CAAA quickly developed a plan to set up a production line focused on replacing the gas absorbing material within the mortar packaging.

A red smoke mortar cartridge has a specific demand and use in the field.

"It's not like you can substitute it for another kind of mortar. The red phosphorous mortars are used for marking locations in the field. They don't want to use a high explosive round when they are trying to mark," Jason Gay, the commodity manufacturing manager said. "If they're low on marking rounds, they don't have a good substitute."

CAAA employees effectively set up a production line within two weeks of receiving the malfunction notice.

"We schedule a ramp up period because they won't be able to get to full production at day one. We figured in about two weeks of ramp up time," Project Engineer David Peel said. "They got to the maximum production rate in about a week."

When the gas absorbing materials were replaced, the mortars were repackaged, resealed, palletized and shipped directly to the warfighter. Once the Marine Corps stock of mortars is fulfilled, CAAA will store them for future use.

This particular production line will continue to run for two to three months. Peel said Crane Army employees working the production line are eager to make a difference and understand the significance of the task at hand.

"When everybody understands that there's a fleet readiness need, everyone gets on board," Peel said. "It's not that the things we do that go into storage aren't important, but shipping directly to the warfighter is just more rewarding in this specific situation."

Crane Army Ammunition Activity produces and provides conventional munitions requirements in support of U.S. Army and Joint Force readiness. It is one of 17 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.