ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. " Anniston Army Depot’s Small Arms Repair Facility recently overhauled more than 24,000 M16A2 rifles to be sold through foreign military sales contracts.
The work began in October 2009 with an initial order of over 16,000 weapons and continued in October 2010 when an additional 8,000 were requested. All weapons completed the overhaul process in May.
Sherry Young, a maintenance management specialist for small arms with the Directorate of Production Management, said it isn’t rare for the shop to overhaul weapons for foreign military sales contracts, but this was a particularly large order.
“We do, every now and then, have FMS programs on other weapons, but these M16 programs are probably the largest we have done in the last few years,” said Young.
The depot’s direct customer for most FMS programs is the U.S. Army and, often, shop employees do not know which country will receive the weapons.
“Due to security reasons, we are rarely told where the foreign military sales program weapons are going,” said Young. “But, it doesn’t matter who is getting the end product. We want to provide the best product we can to every customer.”
The M16s were non-serviceable weapons when brought in for overhaul, according to Young. Each weapon was completely disassembled and parts inspected to determine if repair or replacement was warranted. Each rifle was test-fired after reassembly. Then it is cleaned and turned in for shipment.
Since FMS programs are typically small quantities, a large order, such as this one, requires the shop to ramp up production.
“The schedule is a constant juggling act,” said Young. “We need a quick reaction time to work with our customers and give them what they need when they need it.”
The two FMS programs took more than 84,000 man hours to complete and garnered over $20 million.
Jeff Bonner, weapons division chief, said employees worked overtime to complete the orders and the Small Arms Readiness Evaluation Team filled in when available.
The shop’s many cross-trained employees were also invaluable to the FMS programs.
“We have a section dedicated to each weapons system, but we also do a lot of cross training, so our employees are familiar with many different weapons systems and can assist where they are needed,” said Bonner.
Bonner said cross-training allows employees to work as a team. That team attitude is accentuated by supervisory personnel who meet daily with planning and parts personnel to ensure all aspects of production run smoothly.
“It helps that all our planners, controllers and buyers for small arms are in-house because they are able to locate needed parts quickly,” he said. “Our small arms repair teams wouldn’t be as successful as they are in getting the product to our customers in a timely manner if their planning and parts teammates were located in another building.”