In late 2021, the Ammunition and Armaments Division at Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) restructured the division and created two branches. Samantha Howerton was selected to be the chief of the Ammunition Management Branch. Wyane Schilders is her counterpart on the Armament side.
Howerton oversees five ammunition sections: preparation, logistics, recovery, chambers and quality assurance & stock control.
“We follow the complete lifecycle of all ammunition that we receive.”
This is Howerton’s second time at YPG, she previously served as a Quality Assurance Specialist. She moved to Germany for a few years and when the Ammunition Operations Specialist position opened at YPG she took it as a sign to come back home.
“This was our home for seven years and we were trying to decide where to come back to when we were living in Germany,” Howerton said. “The operations specialist position happened to open up and I did not want to miss the opportunity to return to YPG.”
Now nine years into her career at YPG, Howerton spends her time making sure all the standing operating procedure (SOP) and Army Regulations are followed. Her previous positions ingrained finding a way to meet the test mission while meeting the regulations.
“The quality assurance position was the biggest tool in building my knowledge base. I had to oversee all of the sections to make sure safety was in play and we were doing it in accordance with SOPs. When I came back as the operations specialist I was also the stock record officer which gave me the auditability side which includes stock control and how paperwork is processed and what is required on the test side versus the Army side.”
Howerton was recently recognized for being instrumental in receiving the score of 97% compliance for Yuma Test Center on the Defense Ammunition Center Safety Review Program Inspection — the highest score to date for the current year among installations inspected within the Army.
“To be on point and audit ready at any time is really hard. The fact that I have a team that is really good at it and knows the regulations and knows how to interpret regulations is key.”
Her position relies heavily on following SOPs and Army Regulations because the division needs to have 100% accountability at all times of the ammunition.
“We are accountable for every piece of ammunition that is received until it’s shipped, fired, recovered and/or demilitarized.”
Howerton has settled into her position and its broad responsibilities have helped her see more of how all the sections work together to accomplished YPG’s mission of testing equipment for the Warfighter.
“I get to see more of what YPG does and get to talk to the other division and branch chiefs and realize the big picture.”
On the supervisor side of the job Howerton takes pride in seeing her team work together.
“Each of the sections are amazing. What I am most proud of is how they communicate with each other.”
She adds, “When it comes to the mission every single one of our sections works as hard as they possibly can to complete the mission.”