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The 16th Ordnance Battalion Relocates
to Fort Lee

Field Manual Interim 3–35, Army Deployment and Redeployment, defines deployment as “the movement of forces to an operational area in response to an order.” By that definition, the unit moves that are taking place in response to the 2005 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) report can be called “deployments.” This year, the Army Ordnance Center and Schools, the 61st Ordnance Brigade, and the 16th Ordnance Battalion are deploying from Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, to Fort Lee, Virginia.

These moves require all the mission analysis, staff coordination, command emphasis, and installation support that an operational unit deploying to a theater of operations would require. Personnel and equipment are relocating, units are establishing new operations areas, advance parties have begun to prepare for receiving the main body, leaders are conducting predeployment site surveys, and procedures akin to reception, staging, onward movement, and integration are being developed in anticipation of the arrival of advanced individual training (AIT) students.

The 16th Ordnance Battalion’s deployment to Fort Lee has presented a unique set of challenges. The battalion and the 61st Ordnance Brigade had to develop a movement plan that would support the Army Combined Arms Support Command commander’s intent of continuing to train students and minimizing the move’s impact on students, cadre, and families. To meet this goal, commanders and trainers developed the concept of a “tactical pause,” in which the AIT Soldiers at Aberdeen Proving Ground would continue to focus on tactical training while the staff and faculty prepared their equipment for movement to Fort Lee. To minimize the impact on their families, cadre members were able to conduct their permanent change of station moves during the school summer-break months and then return to Aberdeen Proving Ground in a temporary duty status to continue the mission until the students relocated in September 2009.

The departments that train the 16th Ordnance Battalion Soldiers, the Tactical Support Equipment Department and the Weapons Metal Service Department, are not moving concurrently. This prompted the battalion to establish split-based operations at Aberdeen Proving Ground and Fort Lee, which will continue for approximately 1 year. The battalion’s B and C Companies make up the first force package of the BRAC deployment. In order to support operations simultaneously in two geographically dispersed locations, the battalion has established a command and control cell at Fort Lee until its colors and headquarters relocate.

One way that the leaders and staff have mitigated some of the challenges associated with split-based operations is through the use of collaborative technology. The battalion has established a unit webpage within Army Knowledge Online, where both elements of the unit can share planning documents, provide tasking information, and collaborate on upcoming events. Through Defense Knowledge Online, the unit also uses Defense Connect Online, a version of Adobe Connect that allows real-time audiovisual presentations and whiteboard collaboration. The 16th Ordnance Battalion is in the process of purchasing additional cameras and microphones that will allow for better quality web conferencing capabilities.

As the 16th Ordnance Battalion continues its deployment to Fort Lee, the unit will refine its plan. Lessons learned from the initial planning phase and the establishment of B and C Companies at Fort Lee will provide the battalion’s leaders with information that can improve the upcoming moves of the rest of the battalion. In the spirit of collaboration and using the principles of knowledge management, the 16th Ordnance Battalion will share its plans, analyses, and after-action reports with other units preparing to deploy to Fort Lee, including the 143d Ordnance Battalion, the Ordnance Munitions and Electronic Maintenance School from Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, and the Army Transportation School.

Major Gregory Fend is the executive officer of the 16th Ordnance Battalion, 61st Ordnance Brigade.

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