By Sgt. 1st Class Howard Reed (Japan)November 1, 2012
"We're inactivating because of force restructuring. As a result we are slated to give back more than 40 slots to the total U.S. Army inventory of personnel to use at other duty locations across the force." Said Command Sgt. Maj., 83rd Ordnance Battalion, Leonard D. Pitts.
Pitts said although the pending inactivation represents a significant change the command team remains dedicated, focusing on their mission by providing the best ammo operations until the unit cases its colors.
"We look at it like the 83rd is a part of something bigger than itself right now. We understand as we get closer to the inactivation we're going to be doing more with less personnel, but we have a plan and will work it and adjust as necessary to accomplish the mission," added Pitts.
The unit stores, repairs and maintains ammunitions for Department of Defense throughout the Pacific. The 83rd operates and maintains four strategic ammunition depot locations to support PACOM's full spectrum operations and the Joint Munitions Command's maintenance and demilitarization programs in Japan.
The 83rd manages the only Department of Defense Explosives Safety Board, an approved and licensed burn site for small ammunition and also expels fired range brass from units throughout PACOM.
The majority of the 83rd's Soldiers are stationed at its headquarters at Akizuki in Kure. The unit also has an ammo operations detachment in Okinawa. In Kure, its headquarters is located on approximately three acres of land to include an MWR facility with a fitness center, lodging, barracks, and a restaurant. According to the command it's also the home of the Defense Commissary Agency's smallest commissary both stateside and overseas.
Pitts added that one of the most rewarding part of the unit's mission are the long-standing bi-lateral relationships it has established over the years with the local communities. These relationships remain critical by ensuring regional stability.
"We'll definitely miss our neighbors as well as having an opportunity to go to the local orphanages, participating in festivals and partnering with our Japanese Maritime and Ground Self Defense Force counterparts. Throughout the years this has helped us better understand and appreciate one another, developing trust and fostering friendships that last a life time," said Pitts.
While the 83rd will shut down next year, the mission will fall to another 10th Regional Support unit. The 35th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion will take on the command. The 35th will place a small number of Soldiers to work alongside American civilians and Japanese master labor contractors in support of operations.