By Maj. Todd MasternakMarch 26, 2010
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - Department of Defense officials recently visited Bulgarian and Romanian production facilities for a hands-on look at two of the many companies that provide non-standard or non-NATO munitions to Afghan and Iraqi military and police forces.
Brig. Gen. Jonathan A. Maddux, Program Executive Officer for Ammunition here, headed a U.S. team that visited the Eastern European factories that manufacture and supply non-standard ammunition and weapons to Afghan, Iraq and other friendly nations for counter insurgency, counter terrorism and security operations.
Maddux was accompanied by several other PEO Ammunition personnel and senior representatives of the Defense Contract Management Agency Ground Systems and Munitions Division, otherwise known as the DCMAG, and DCMA Southern Europe.
"We used this opportunity to tour the production facilities, gain a better understanding of the intricacies of supplying non-NATO materiel and also to build relationships with the respective U.S. Embassy officials and Bulgarian and Romanian Ministries of Defense," Maddux said.
Non-standard ammunition describes munitions that aren't stocked, type-classified or safety-approved for use by U.S. forces, explained William Sanville, Deputy Project Manager for Maneuver Ammunition Systems.
These munitions are preferred by the respective governments because their current weapons inventory consists of non-NATO weapons and their military and security forces are familiar with them, he said.
PEO Ammo stood up the Non-Standard Ammunition Office here in October 2008.
The office oversees non-standard acquisition and brings standards similar to those used to procure and manage standard Army ammunition to the non-standard process, Sanville said.
The manufacturing facilities in Bulgaria and Romania are operated by suppliers to several U.S. companies under contract to provide non-standard munitions to the government, he said.
These facility visits afforded the PEO Ammo and DCMA Director of DCMAG the opportunity to directly observe the manufacturing quality processes in place as well as the effort each company makes in providing effective munitions.
"A supply chain that consists of U.S. prime contractors providing systems integration over many manufacturers located throughout Eastern Europe, Pakistan and the United States provides for interesting complexities," Sanville said.
"Understanding the complexities of this process helps us determine the best acquisition strategy for non-standard materiel," he said.
For instance, he said, the Defense Contract Management Agency Southern Europe has been providing quality assurance representation on non-standard ammunition and weapons since April, 2007. As many as three weeks a month, Quality Assurance Representatives travel throughout Eastern Europe to conduct inspections of the non-standard materiel prior to shipment.
During the visit, PEO Ammo officials were able to observe this dedication to duty first hand, as well as experience the challenges of traveling between multiple countries to meet delivery deadlines.
The trip also allowed the officials to build relationships with U.S. Embassy and Ministry of Defence officials located in both countries.
"Forming a mutual trust and understanding with the U.S. Embassy in each respective country, as well as their Ministries of Defense, was the single most important benefit from the travel," Maddux said.
"The discussions held during both visits resulted in a better understanding of the U.S. government's mission, which relies on the support received by the respective Bulgarian and Romanian industrial bases," Maddux said.