BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Mar. 31, 2013)--The Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station, or CROWS, was initially tested by the Army in late 2008 and fielding to units supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom began shortly thereafter. The primary advantage for a vehicle-mounted CROWS is that it allows the operator to remotely aim and fire a weapon from inside a vehicle.

Like many systems, CROWS has many individual 'bits and pieces' according to Loren A. Larkey, CROWS lead for Regional Commands East and North. Larkey is currently leading an effort to gather up the 'bits and pieces' to be cleaned and packaged in order to be sent to the Supply Support Activity at Bagram Airfield where the recovered equipment will be available for Soldiers and units. In four weeks, they have recovered equipment valued at more than $8.6 million and returned it for issue to the Warfighter.

To support his initiative, Larkey brings CROWS field service representatives to Bagram from RCs East and North for four days to sort through equipment turned in at retrosort yards in the two regional command areas.

"It (excess equipment) comes in 'kicker boxes'," said Larkey. "We sort through it and send the unserviceable to DRMO (Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services). We pressure wash and dry the serviceable items outside and take them inside for additional cleaning and then wrap it, bag it and tag it for the SSA."

Larkey explained that the 'bits and pieces' are used to make WAK bags.

"WAK bags are Weapons Adaption Kits that are included when CROWS-equipped vehicles are issued to units," he said. "WAK marries the weapons station and the weapon into one component."

On a recent visit to the Bagram CROWS facility, four field service representatives all of whom deployed from "DETROIT!" Michigan, were working on reclaiming WAK bag components. They travelled from Forward Operating Bases Salerno, Sharana and Shank to meet a counterpart from Bagram and then fell in on a smoothly operating four-step process that resulted in 'kicker boxes' full of serviceable parts being returned to the supply system.

"We have a total of nine CROWS sites across Afghanistan collecting WAK components from areas such as the RPAT yards, DRMO's , retro-sort and SASC (small arms support center)," said Larkey. "So we are scouring the country in attempts to collect and place the serviceable WAK back into the system."

All the 'bits and pieces' add up to real savings. The recovery efforts have thus far resulted in serviceable parts valued at $7,419,331 being returned the SSA for issue to the Warfighter. The teams have also reconfigured 46 complete WAK kits valued at $1,230,776 since Feb. 21, 2013."

The total value of reclaimed parts between Feb. 21 and Mar. 23, 2013 is $8,650,107.

"We're trying to reutilize all assets in theater," said Larkey. "We want to use what we already have."
In addition to the rotating teams, Larkey credits the efforts of the entire CROWS team at Bagram Airfield in supporting the cost avoidance initiative. He referenced Lt. Col. Thomas Ryan, Program Manager, Tim McPherson, CROWS Theater Lead, Lincoln Moore CROWS Supply Lead, and Steve Pae, CROWS Supply Technician, who also provide tremendous support to the reclamation initiative while continuing to support fielding and sustainment of CROWS systems to the Warfighter.

Editor's note: The CROWS program falls under Program Executive Office Soldier, Project Manager Soldier Weapons, Product Manager Crew Served Weapons and in theater the Soldiers, Civilians and contractors who support fielding, sustainment and retrograde of CROWS fall under 401st Army Field Support Brigade.