CRANE, Ind. -- Operation Golden Cargo, the annual logistics exercise which brings Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers together to move ammunition for the Joint Munitions Command, is nearly complete. But for the Soldiers of Task Force White, led by the 395th Combat Service and Support Battalion here, the results can already be seen.
Task Force White is just one of three task forces working together in the Mid-West region to accomplish their part of a nationwide, annual exercise, which gives Reserve and Guard Soldiers real-world training while supporting the active-duty Army. Over the past two weeks, the 395th CSSB and its subordinate units have shipped out 121 truckloads of munitions weighing over 1,500 tons and received and unloaded 120 truckloads more, operating daily convoys which cover up to 375 miles a day in missions between Indiana and McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in Oklahoma. While at Crane, ammunition specialists have also assisted in moving and storing other munitions within the site.
Most of the munitions being moved are slated for demilitarization, but that doesn’t decrease the risks involved in shipping thousands of tons of still-active rockets and artillery shells.
“Safety is number one here, because what we do is inherently dangerous,” said Col.
Linwood Clark, a Baltimore, Md., native and commander of the CAAA. While accomplishing the mission is important, he said, what is more important is the Soldiers involved in the operation. Ammunition specialists at Crane train Soldiers in handling and transporting ammunition, but only once a year do they get the active support of Reserve and Guard troops in performing their crucial function of supplying the Army’s ammunition needs. The job is important, said Clark, but safety always comes first.
Maj. David Ryan, commander of the 395th CSSB and Task Force White, stresses safety and the constant need for improvement to the troops in his command.
“All accidents are preventable,” said Ryan, a Brooklyn, N.Y., native and veteran of three combat tours since 2001. An often-used phrase in his unit is “Everyday Better,” which illustrates his striving for greater safety and efficiency. Working with a variety of explosive ordnance and transporting it through civilian-populated areas, TF White instituted and rigidly enforced safety standards, from extensive checks and maintenance to close coordination between Soldiers and their leaders.
That kind of attention to detail, said Ryan, is what makes missions like Operation Golden Cargo run safely and smoothly. As their two weeks of intensive training and participation in Operation Golden Cargo ends, there have not been any significant accidents or safety issues. Ryan attributes that to his team’s constant diligence, or, as he puts it: “Everything we direct, we inspect.”
Ryan saids his Soldiers adhere to same high safety standards they used while deployed recently in Iraq.
“We took our lessons from theater and applied them to training,” Ryan said. “We train as we fight.” Since returning from combat, the 395th’s training cycle has begun again; Operation Golden Cargo gives them the chance to integrate new Soldiers and work with other units the same way as they would when deployed, preparing them for the next mission down the road, should the time come.
CAAA was established in Oct. 1977 and maintains ordnance professionals and infrastructure to receive, store, ship, produce, renovate and demilitarize conventional ammunition, missiles and related components. The Army activity is a subordinate of the Joint Munitions Command and is located on Naval Support Activity Crane.