ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- DLA Disposition Services Small Arms Demilitarization, a component of the Defense Logistics Agency and a tenant of Anniston Army Depot, serves a unique purpose for the Department of Defense. They demilitarize every small arms weapon marked for destruction from every DoD organization.
"Anyone in DoD who needs to destroy their weapons, we give them an outlet," said Jerrod Kirkpatrick, a property disposal specialist with DLA Disposition Services. "We have everything from large quantities sent by the Department of the Army down to single items identified for demilitarization."
In 2010, DLA Disposition Services demilitarized over 97,000 weapons at two sites -- here in Anniston and a now-closed facility in Crane, Ind. To-date in 2011, the Anniston location has cut or shredded more than 26,000 weapons. Among these are shotguns, pistols, rifles and carbines, training weapons and receivers.
The cut items, weapons too large for the shredder, are torch cut in a DLA facility on the depot. In another building sits the shredder, nicknamed Captain Crunch, a large machine with two intertwined blades which grinds weapons into smaller parts.
A small contingent of DLA employees operate the secure facility. There, they verify the serial numbers of each weapon delivered, ensuring they are truly intended for demilitarization, then feed the weapons to Crunch.
At the end of the final conveyor belt, the mangled bits of steel, aluminum and plastic accumulate in a large metal bin. These pieces, too small or damaged to rebuild a weapon, are ready for recycling.
At least three employees are required to operate Crunch. A material handler who loads the weapons into the machine and two property disposal specialists, who monitor the conveyor belts for any pieces not satisfactorily shredded.
"Anything we see on the belt that is not crushed appropriately, we remove it and put it back through the machine," said Kirkpatrick.
In addition to assisting with Crunch's operations in Anniston, the property disposal specialists may be called up for travel to assess demilitarization of weapons and determine if they have been properly destroyed.
But Kirkpatrick said operations at Anniston Army Depot are the main focus and each of them loves the work they do, especially when a new shipment of weapons arrives.
Each of the employees, who all have an interest in guns, particularly enjoy seeing older weapons, or weapons they haven't dealt with before, come in.
"It's like Christmas," said Kirkpatrick. "You open up a box and say 'I've never seen this before. What is this?'"