For 80 years hardworking Hoosiers here have diligently supported the defense of our nation through many wars and conflicts. Crane Army Ammunition Activity is proud of its role in this legacy of service and has faithfully provided munitions to our men and women in uniform whenever and wherever needed following its own founding in 1977.
Since being established and assuming the mission of providing munitions readiness to all the services, Crane Army played a major role in supplying warfighters with the materials they needed to succeed overseas during wide-ranging hostilities such as the Gulf War, the Bosnian War and the War on Terror.
“The exceptional ability of our people to meet the urgent needs of the warfighter sets Crane Army apart,” said CAAA Deputy to the Commander Norm Thomas, who has worked with Crane Army for 38 years. “They go out and excel at it every day. Every one of them steps up and handles their duties with passion.”
“I find it very fulfilling to know what we do at Crane Army supports our warfighters and protects our country,” said Vickie McKibben, the lead depot operations supply system analyst for CAAA. “It has been rewarding to see folks over the years come here and grow and learn about how much we do for the warfighter and realize they’re contributing to the security of our nation.”
For example, CAAA employees worked tirelessly to meet the short deadlines required by surging troops during Desert Storm in 1991. During the Gulf War Crane Army was responsible for supplying nearly 50,000 tons of ammunition and shipped hundreds of rail and truck loads over a short period of time.
“We had a big push in our ability to get materials out the door and items out for shipment, but we didn’t just meet the deadline,” Thomas said. “We simultaneously improved our out-loading processes as we shipped munitions out, resulting in an incredible revitalization in the face of a challenge.”
Ten years later Crane Army also reorganized its production and demilitarization missions under a new manufacturing and engineering directorate. The manufacturing and engineering workforce has since found new and innovative ways to produce, demilitarize and refurbish munitions and conventional ammunition for the Army. Manufacturing and engineering is currently involved in a range of projects from the production and renovation of pyrotechnic flares, bombs, artillery, charges and bursters to demilitarization processes where munitions are destroyed in ways that preserve materials so they can be recycled or reused. These salvaged materials can sometimes be put to immediate use like in CAAA’s white phosphorous plant where rounds are converted to phosphoric acid.
“My work finding and brainstorming ways to safely destroy or take apart unserviceable munitions, and working with other engineers to make them come to life, makes it so that the storage space we have can be filled up with usable munitions,” said Robin Hart, a planner and estimator for manufacturing and engineering who has worked with CAAA since 1980. “Through our demilitarization we can make a difference in funding too. I have seen how jobs get funded and equipment is purchased based on the recycling we are able to do.”
CAAA proved its dedication once again in 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. CAAA temporarily shut down production lines so that employees from all directorates could focus solely on shipping munitions to support the mission. Crane Army employees worked around the clock, seven days a week, until the mission was complete to ensure the thousands of tons of munitions Crane Army supplied were in the hands of the warfighter when they needed to be.
“During Operation Iraqi Freedom we supported several missions but during one in particular, uniformed soldiers came and worked side by side with our folks,” McKibben said. “To see them working side by side in the cold and the dark and doing what it took to get the munitions ready to go out; it was inspiring and it sticks out in my mind as one of my favorite memories.”
CAAA has a proven history of delivering unmatched munitions when they are needed but Crane Army has never stopped looking forward for more ways it can help the warfighter succeed. Crane Army remembers and respects its past but continues to modernize to determine the most efficient ways of providing the best possible munitions in the years ahead.
“We are going to see a focus on modernization,” Thomas said. “There’s this incredible appetite to fund and pursue modernization, not just in our amazing facilities, processes and equipment, but in the people that make Crane Army the unmatched force that it is.”
The most significant factor in Crane Army’s storied history is the hardworking men and women who have contributed to its mission and continue to make it what it is today. Their dedication to their nation and to each other has and will continue to make CAAA one of the premier munitions providers for our armed forces.
“People ask me why I stay and all I can tell them is I love what I do and I love who I work with,” said Hart. “The relationships I have with my team are so important.”
Crane Army Ammunition Activity produces and provides conventional munitions in support of U.S. Army and Joint Force readiness. It is part of the Joint Munitions Command and 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.