FORT DRUM, N.Y. (May 7, 2021) -- With the majority of the 10th Mountain Division (LI) returned from deployments, Soldiers are constantly honing their skills on the training ranges with a high volume of rounds and munitions expended.
Jim Farney, Fort Drum Garrison Safety Office explosive safety specialist, said that this is an ideal time to remind units about the Ammunition Amnesty Program and their responsibilities outlined in the Explosive Safety Management Program.
“What we don’t want is to have any ammo or explosives where they are not supposed to be,” he said. “When it happens, it tends to be an honest mistake, and so we have a procedure for them to correct it.”
Farney said that the Amnesty Program operates yearround, and it has a “no questions asked” policy that allows ammunition or ammunition residue to be turned in without fear of punishment from the chain of command.
“When a unit comes back from a range, they have already cleared their weapons and have done a shake-down for brass and ammo,” he said. “Usually that’s when it is captured. Then later, someone may go through the gear they had on the range and find one or two loose rounds. Well, there’s an amnesty box at the Ammunition Supply Point (ASP) where they can drop those off.”
Amnesty turn-ins can be conducted daily during normal duty hours at the ASP, by placing items in the amnesty box or giving them directly to any employee there. Farney said that anything larger than .50 caliber will require Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) transport. If ammunition or explosives are found on the installation after duty hours, anywhere other than on a range or in the training area, he said the individual should mark the area where it is found, determine the location and call Range Control at (315) 772-7152.
In accordance with Fort Drum Regulation 385-64, “Ammunition and Explosives Safety Management Program,” the Garrison Safety Office conducts an annual Amnesty Day. This year, it is scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. June 23 at the parking lot on Munns Corner Road, past Building 20651, on Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield.
“Our installation-wide Amnesty Day is the time when units can take a look at their areas and see what needs to be turned in or removed, so there’s not an accumulation of items in places where they’re not supposed to be,” Farney said.
Safety is a key component in Soldier readiness, and Farney said that Amnesty Day is one of the ways they can prevent mishaps.
“Since I’ve been associated with the Safety Office, I haven’t seen anything major turn up during an Amnesty Day,” he said. “It’s all been routine things and nothing out of the ordinary. I hope that means Soldiers are doing the right thing when they come off the ranges and that they are using the Amnesty Program the right way.”
Farney said that he has heard about incidents on military installations where units will display “dummy” ammunition or explosives on their walls, only to find out during safety inspections that the items are not actually inert.
“In one case, this unit had a live rocket hanging on their wall for years,” he said. “The building was being remodeled, they took the rocket down and realized it was much heavier than it should have been.”
Farney said that such display items should have documentation verifying that it is inert or empty.
“For example, every year I will go to our museum and inspect any ammo or explosives used for displays and check to see it is certified as inert,” he said. “Items can physically be identified as inert if you can see drill marks where it is obvious it’s not a live round. Sometimes a training aid will actually be labeled ‘inert’ right on it.”
Farney said that people with questions about the Ammunition Amnesty Program can call the Garrison Safety Office at (315) 772-0310.