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Supplying Ammunition at LSA Anaconda

The 452d Ordnance Company is an Army Reserve unit based in Aberdeen, South Dakota, a small town nestled in the northeast part of the state. The Soldiers of the unit call 13 states home; company personnel come from California, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming. In 2005, they assembled at Fort Riley, Kansas, to begin an 18-month adventure.

Operating the Corps Storage Area

The company’s arrival at Logistics Support Area (LSA) Anaconda in Balad, Iraq, in October 2005 was an exciting time. It was, after all, a new place with new people and a new mission. We were to provide ammunition support to coalition and joint forces in the Iraqi theater by operating the corps storage area (CSA). Instead of only issuing containerized, bulk shipments to ammunition supply points (ASPs) that, in turn, would issue the ammunition to customer units, we would be issuing ammunition directly to using units, ammunition transfer holding points, and ASPs throughout the theater. We were tasked to conduct ammunition operations for over $360 million worth of ammunition while emphasizing safety, accountability, equipment maintenance, and operational efficiency.

That initial burst of enthusiasm was soon challenged by the realization that we were one full platoon (44 Soldiers) smaller than the unit we were replacing. We also realized that the equipment we would inherit—over 200 pieces of rolling stock and materials-handling equipment, twice the number authorized by the modification table of organization and equipment—was in need of annual services and operator-level maintenance.

During the relief-in-place and transfer-of-authority process, we identified several areas that needed immediate attention and developed a plan of action. When we assumed the mission, the CSA was operated more like an ASP (issuing ammunition directly to the customer) than a CSA (issuing ammunition to the ASP that, in turn, issued the ammunition to the customer). The amount of ammunition managed was so large that the CSA was located at two separate locations at LSA Anaconda. The challenges of inventorying, accounting for, and managing the over $360 million worth of ammunition dispersed over the two locations immediately became apparent. Other areas of concern included the lack of experienced Standard Army Ammunition System-Modernization (SAAS–MOD) operators, the introduction of unique equipment such as family of medium tactical vehicles (FMTV) trucks, and the need for force protection updates at both ASPs.

With less than 60 days on the ground, the CSA experienced a SAAS–MOD system crash that could have put operations weeks behind and greatly hindered our ability to support customer units. A meticulous process to replace and rebuild the entire system was initiated and accomplished within 24 hours, bringing the CSA back on line without a single customer noticing a difference in the service provided.

Managing Ammunition

To raise operation standards from Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) II to OIF 05–07 standards, we rewarehoused all stocks within the CSA. This improved the overall accountability and safety of munitions that were dispersed over two ASPs. The rewarehousing process successfully identified, consolidated, and stored items with more than 370 different Department of Defense Identification Codes (DODICs), spread out in more than 700 containers, to peacetime compatibility standards. Over a 10-month period, 677 inventory site visits were completed during 3,913 transfers between depots to correct discrepancies dating back to OIF III. The inventory team conducted a 100-percent inventory of all stocks within the first 4 months of the tour, which exceeded the Army regulatory requirement of 10-percent monthly cyclic inventories by 60 percent. This aided in the proficiency, accountability, and safety of ammunition operations.

Managing Personnel

Managing ammunition stocks was only one challenge to our mission. The second half of the equation was the management of personnel. A carefully orchestrated continuity of effort among five different groups equally dedicated to the mission of the CSA was vital. Personnel from the 452d; Kellogg, Brown and Root; the 21st Cargo Transfer Company; the 610th Quartermaster Company; and civilian quality assurance specialists (ammunition surveillance) supported the CSA, providing materials-handling equipment support, force protection, and ammunition surveillance. The success of this continuity can be verified through the monthly average movement of more than 314 tons, or more than 1,662,903 rounds, valued at roughly $12,879,624, to the ASP in Q-West supporting the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and the monthly average movement of 1,376,993 rounds, valued at $1,633,551, to the Ridgeway ASP supporting the II Marine Expeditionary Force. Tallil ASP supported units in southern Iraq with a monthly average of 2,482,126 rounds valued at $816,302, and our largest customer, the 4th Infantry Division in the Baghdad area, received a monthly average of 3,012,509 rounds valued at $23,723,082. This success took place while we simultaneously coordinated condition code H (salvage and free issue) munitions for demilitarization.

Improving the CSA

By assessing procedural shortcomings and implementing changes to the basic load ammunition holding area, we improved customer support, accountability, and safety. A simple change to the standing operating procedures ensured that customer units would continue to have uninterrupted access to the area while maintaining security and accountability of their ammunition. Safety was improved theaterwide when an informational packet on the proper handling and safety procedures for AT4 antitank weapons was distributed to all customer units receiving AT4s.

Force protection improvements at the CSA included the addition of 30 T-Wall barriers and 20 bunkers and improvement at the entry control points. Infrastructure improvements included the construction of a new ammunition turn-in facility and a $2.9 million project to replace aging HESCO barriers (a collapsible, wire-mesh container filled with sand) with revetment barriers. These improvements increased the overall storage capability of the CSA and simultaneously ensured against the spontaneous and continuous explosion of munitions if struck by local insurgent rounds.

Our success resulted not only from flawlessly conducted full-scale ammunition operations but also from employing a “one team-one fight” concept by the Soldiers and civilians operating the CSA.

First Lieutenant Tamera A. Greshik, USAR, is the Executive Officer for the 452d Ordnance Company in Aberdeen, South Dakota. She has been mobilized twice and deployed once in the past 3 years in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Rocky Mountain College and is a graduate of the Ordnance Officer Basic Course.