While the majority of the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command is focused on new and emerging technology, the AMCOM Demilitarization Program Office is tasked with providing a safe retirement for older, obsolete weapons systems and their components.
The DEMIL office is part of the AMCOM Logistics Center’s Materiel Management Directorate. In addition to logisticians, the office also includes program analysts and a contract specialist, who work with depots and munitions centers around the country. Its mission is to safely remove the lethal components of military weapons systems and properly dispose of ammunition, major-end items and repair parts.
“DEMIL means to render an asset innocuous,” said Marian Guidry, AMCOM DEMIL program manager. “It takes the military advantage out of an asset. For instance, if an asset is designed to be explosive, demilitarization will destroy all inherent military designs, so it won’t be used for an unintended purpose.”
According to Army Techniques Publication 4-42: Materiel Management, Supply, and Field Services Operations, Army logistics divides materiel into 10 classes of supply. Guidry said her office DEMILs classes V, VII and IX — ammunition, major-end items, and repair parts and components. She has 14 authorizations supporting the DEMIL mission, with the majority of them focused on the demilitarization of class V items, a reimbursable mission aligned with the Joint Program Executive Office for Armaments and Ammunition.
“In 2008, the Department of Defense granted centralized management of ammunition DEMIL to improve the efficiency of the process,” Guidry said. “The Army is the signal manager for conventional ammunition; class V is a tri-service mission and the Army is responsible for demilitarizing all aviation and missile assets for the Army, Air Force and Navy.”
The DEMIL office is not involved with the decision to retire assets. Guidry said once items are assessed as divestible, her office receives the assets into the DEMIL stockpile and assesses the capacity and capability for depots, munition centers and other venues to DEMIL them.
“When there are areas of capability gaps, the AMCOM DEMIL Program Office works collaboratively with the [U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation and Missile Center] to mitigate those capability gaps,” she said. “We receive five-year projections of what items will become divestible — obsolete, unneeded, unsafe, etc. DEMIL is considered as a last resort; if assets can be reused, then it is a win-win for all involved.”
Guidry said she wants developers to keep DEMIL in mind when designing new technology.
“Assets are designed with usability as the primary focus, but we are also asking developers to design technologies and assets in such a way that at the end of its useful life, DEMIL and disposal would be a little bit easier to accomplish,” she said.
Guidry took over as AMCOM DEMIL program manager in 2019, but has been involved with the process since 2015. She describes DEMIL as one of the “little known functions within AMCOM” and said traveling to the different depots and munitions centers is one of the best parts of her job.
“I enjoy walking the floor, talking to the technicians, seeing the processes and technologies in real-time, and getting a full appreciation for the intricate processes used for safely DEMILing assets,” she said.
She added that while her travel was impacted by COVID-19, the DEMIL process did not stop due to the pandemic, because what they do is important and safety is paramount.
“We are at the very end of lifecycle management,” she said. “Safe demilitarization makes it better for everyone involved because it removes the lethal components and keeps volatile equipment from getting in the wrong hands.”