CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Defense Demilitarization is an integral part of the life cycle of Department of Defense materiel.
DEMIL involves the assessment of requirements and performance of physical demilitarization for DOD personal property. Employees in the Directorate of Supply and Transportation at Letterkenny Army Depot consistently engage in DEMIL processes to support Army readiness.
According to Murray Romig, a logistics management specialist within DST at LEAD, the DEMIL process begins when a depot customer makes the determination of which assets will be turned in.
“From there, I coordinate with our subject matter experts to assess the codes and requirements for the assets,” said Romig. “There is also a great deal of coordination with our Defense Logistics Agency site manager to ensure we establish the correct requirements and develop a proper cost estimate for the customer.”
Once that cost estimate is accepted and the customer provides funding for the workload, employees within DST get to work executing the actual DEMIL of the asset. The DEMIL codes that Romig and the team use indicate the degree of required physical destruction, identify items that require specialized procedures and identifies items that may not require DEMIL but may require other controls.
“Our actual execution of the DEMIL ranges in complexity based on the codes and guidelines for that particular asset,” Romig said. Ranging from simply draining fluids from an asset to executing a full reclamation, he and his team coordinate with DLA Disposition Services every step of the way.
“We also coordinate with DLA DS to ensure assets are packed and shipped properly,” Romig said. “We go through and make sure everything is strapped down and that there aren’t any loose pieces or parts. That way, DLA can do their part without issue.”
While DST has completed hundreds of major end item and secondary asset DEMIL projects in the past couple years, one of the depot’s largest ongoing DEMIL projects falls under the purview of the Directorate of Industrial Operations.
“Over the past two years, LEAD has executed the DEMIL of over 350 Avenger weapons systems for Program Executive Office Missile and Space Short and Intermediate Effectors for Defense,” said Ron O’Donnell, program manager for Sentinel and Avenger programs at LEAD. “Our current Avenger DEMIL project started back in May of 2020; it will terminate at the conclusion of fiscal 2021.”
The goal of the project was to reclaim components, determined by PEO M&S SHIELD, from the condition code F Avengers and deliver them to stock PEO M&S SHIELD’s inventory.
“The idea behind DEMIL is to reclaim as many depot-level repair items as possible rather than disposing of them or just letting them go to waste,” O’Donnell said. “When the item manager determines that they have enough in stock, we cease the reclamation.”
The challenge for item managers is balancing current stock against future needs. It’s a delicate balance between reclaiming enough items to support the systems currently in the field and disposing of excess materiel to meet the needs of the Army as it transitions to new systems.
“There’s a point in the life cycle management of a system when procurement is no longer feasible for some items,” O’Donnell said. “Soldiers still require support for their equipment, but where does that support come from if the supply chain no longer provides it? That’s where DEMIL fills that need. We retain, repair and/or refurbish those saved components; we reutilize that old stuff so the Soldier has like-new replacements.”
The Avenger DEMIL program fulfills the balance between current equipment support and disposition or excess materiel. It also provides opportunities to modernize equipment for future systems.
“For this particular project, PM SHIELD contracted LEAD to remove the Stinger Vehicle Mounted Launcher pods,” O’Donnell said while pointing to the SVML pod located at the top of the Avenger system.
“These pods will be converted to Stinger Universal Mounted Launchers at a later time in support of one of the Army’s latest weapon systems, the Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense,” O’Donnell shared. “M-SHORAD is an Air Defense Artillery capability which moves and maneuvers in direct support of brigade combat teams to destroy, neutralize or deter low-altitude aerial threats.”
O’Donnell shared that this reclamation also supports the sustainment of the current system as the Army works to replace the Avenger system in the upcoming years.
“I think DEMIL is a precursor to modernization; you have to get rid of the old before you can field the new,” O’Donnell said.
When examining the DEMIL program at Letterkenny, numerous benefits come to the surface.
“The benefits to DEMIL at Letterkenny is that during the non-procurement periods, we can reclaim all the necessary items in order to sustain units during that five-year period,” O’Donnell said. “Letterkenny also has DLA Disposition Services right on site that lends to efficient collaboration and communication throughout the DEMIL process.”
The DEMIL process itself also ensures that items that are no longer needed are disposed of properly. DEMIL reduces costs and protects critical program information and technology.
“We make sure anything of value, or sensitivity, is removed before disposal,” O’Donnell said.
Whether the DEMIL efforts fall within DST or DIO at LEAD, the benefits to the depot, the customer and the Army remain the same. “It just makes sense,” Romig said. “If something is obsolete or it’s unserviceable, it makes no sense for the Army or the taxpayer to have assets sitting here in storage that aren’t viable for anything.”
DEMIL is one example of how LEAD balances the ongoing demand for current readiness with the imperative to secure future readiness without overly stressing people or equipment.
“It’s good to purge it out of the system so that it’s no longer dead weight, per se,” Romig said. “It’s good for the customer because they’re no longer paying storage fees for the asset, and it’s good for Letterkenny because we can bring in new assets that are applicable to new programs at the depot.”
Letterkenny Army Depot is the Army’s premier professional organic maintenance facility that provides overhaul, repair and modifications for tactical missile air defense and space systems, electric power generation equipment and various military vehicles, support systems and protection programs. LEAD is a subordinate of U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, and is the Air and Missile Defense and Long Range Precision Fires depot, supporting systems for the Department of Defense, foreign partners and industry. Letterkenny Army Depot was established in 1942 and is a government-owned and -operated industrial installation located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
For more information about LEAD, visit https://www.letterkenny.army.mil/
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