By Summer Barkley, 401st AFSB Public AffairsAugust 22, 2012
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- The 11-person Operation Ammunition Clean Sweep 2012 team inspected and condition coded more than 2,500 short tons of ammunition in about six months.
The QASAS (quality assurance specialists/ammunition surveillance) arrived at the end of the worst winter in Afghanistan in at least 30 years and travelled to 70 locations working with units across the Combined Joint Operations Area-Afghanistan enduring snow and ice, travel delays, austere living conditions and finally summer's heat and blowing dust.
Their job was to travel throughout the CJOA-A in support of the regional commands to inspect ammunition for serviceability and suspensions or restrictions. They marked and/or tagged unserviceable and suspended/restricted ammunition and segregated it from serviceable ammunition.
The five two-person teams worked with more than155 units and inspected more than 2,290 short tons of serviceable ammunition and more than 220 short tons of unserviceable ammunition. Each member of the team inspected an average of more than 10 tons of ammunition each week.
Their focus was to assist unit commanders with Class V preparation for redeployment, increase Class V combat readiness and explosives safety posture, provide greater fidelity of accountability by verifying inventories, inspecting for serviceability, and removing unserviceable / suspended stocks. They also input Class V data into the Munitions History Program.
"You got a chance to see a lot, take that back to others you work with," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 David M. Turner, officer-in-charge of the U.S. Forces-Afghanistan J-4 Munitions Branch. "The work you did is critical to getting to the end state in 2014, by having the right ammo in the right place."
The OACS 2012 mission was requested by U.S. Forces-Afghanistan with the teams working at sites designated by that command.
"Our biggest accomplishment was to identify unserviceable and unsafe ammunition and get it out of the Soldier's hands," said Terry L. Mines, OACS 2012 team lead. "The QASAS teams were sent to locations where units were redeploying or that are scheduled to close."
Denise Batchelor said she spent most of her time on combat outposts, sometimes no bigger than "three football fields." She said she was often the only female on the COP and she did her laundry in an "ammo can" that she used for a seat when not in use as a laundry tub.
Batchelor said the biggest challenge she saw was balancing having the right amount of ammunition needed for missions against returning excess ammunition in preparation for closing a location.
"We were positioned as far forward as possible to ensure ammunition the units would be transporting to larger bases was safe to transport," she said.
"As a former QASAS career program manager, I couldn't be more proud," said Neil R. Wachutka, Joint Munitions Command senior command representative. "The team supplemented what we have in theater. The last Operation Ammo Clean Sweep was a great success and when U.S. Forces-Afghanistan said 'we want another one' we were ready to execute."
Wachutka noted that everyone on the team volunteered to deploy. He said that when one member of the team had to redeploy early, Sgt. 1st Class Robert John, an ammunition specialist, with 593rd Sustainment Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., currently assigned to 1st Theater Sustainment Command, volunteered to fill the gap.
It is anticipated that another OACS mission will be scheduled next year.