By Spc. Michael Vanpool, 101st Sustainment BrigadeApril 11, 2011
One company resupplies ammunition for thousands of servicemembers
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - According to Sgt.1st Class Fred Fischer, an ammunition platoon sergeant with the 592nd Ordnance Company, Soldiers can live without water and without food for a few days, but the Soldiers in the mountains cannot live for a minute without ammo.
The journey of ordnance to the thousands of servicemembers throughout Northern and Eastern Afghanistan rests in the hands of a small company on Bagram Air Field. These Soldiers are the ones who deploy bullets, mortars and countless other ordnance through the rugged mountains of Afghanistan.
The 592nd Ordnance Company, a reserve unit attached to the 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, operates the Bagram Ammunition Supply Point. The Billings, Mont., reserve unit delivers ammo to units locally, as well as every servicemember in Regional Commands North, East and Central.
"Most ASPs in Afghanistan are user units," Fischer said. "They do inventory of the ordnance, track which unit comes into the depot, and give ammo to the unit."
"What makes this ASP unique is we ship to other FOBs and give ammo to the units here, as well as shipping munitions to and from Kuwait," he said.
The reservists guarantee ammo makes it to the Soldier's weapon from the flightline on Bagram.
When they receive a shipment, the 592nd inventories all the ammo with the paperwork and sends it to the holding yard, said Spc. Delany Hedricks, an ammunition supply specialist with the 592nd. The pallets of ammo are picked up from the yard and counted again when it's time for the trek to the servicemember.
"We've got some really intelligent people here," Hedricks said. "It's a very monotonous job, so we have to be constantly aware. We do the same ammo, same number, different day. It's little tedious, you have to always be on the lookout."
As the ammo is pulled from the yard, the Soldiers inspect every piece of ordnance during the final inventory here. They check the pallets of ammo for any defects or contamination before it reaches the warfighter's barrel.
"We're making sure not just the guys get the ammo they need when they need it," Hedricks said, "but we also make sure it's in good condition I don't think we could live with ourselves if we gave them bad ammo."
Shipping the ordnance takes on the brigade's three-dimensional approach to logistics in Afghanistan. Depending on the terrain of the final destination and urgency, the whopping amounts of ammo can move by ground, air, or air-dropped directly into a FOB.
The roads of Afghanistan are under-developed, rough and bumpy. Before the 17th CSSB transportation companies move with the ammo to resupply other FOBs, the 592nd carefully packs every conex of ammo to avoid any accidents during transit.
"In the conexs, there are certain ordnances that cannot be mixed with any other munitions," Fischer said. "We have to separate ordnance from ordnance to avoid explosions."
Ammo moving by air presents the same hazards. Heights and weights are checked, double-checked and checked again to guarantee a safe journey. Each pallet is loaded and netted with precision to avoid any combustion during the flight.
"For air shipments on a helicopter or plane, there's a lot of static on the birds, so we make sure everything is compatible," Hedricks said.
Soldiers of the 592nd team up with the riggers of the 11th Quartermaster Company, 101st Sust. Bde., when ammunition is dropped from the sky. The riggers are the air-drop experts for the 101st Sust. Bde., and they use their skills to secure each bundle of ammo for its eventual fall hundreds of feet above a FOB.
The process of counting, storing and loading is a never-ending job for the platoon-sized company from Montana. They work around the clock every day, and every Soldier in the yard is trained on every aspect of ammo movement, Hedricks said.
The Soldiers find solace, not only in the mountains surrounding them, reminiscent of the landscape of Montana, but also in their part supplying the warfighter in those mountains.
"I think we all feel responsible for helping all the Soldiers," Hedricks said.