Soldiers had to polish their rusty ammunition-handling
when they were tasked with operating ammunition supply points
“Back to basics” could be used to describe the
lessons that have been learned by the 1st Corps Support Command
(COSCOM) (Airborne) Munitions Division (Airborne) since it
deployed to Iraq to support the Multinational Corps-Iraq (MNC–I).
Our Soldiers were tasked to manage four Army ammunition supply
points (ASPs) dispersed across the Iraqi theater. For this
role, they had to dust off their ammunition-handling and ASP-operating
skills, deploy, and quickly transition from logisticians to
Because contractors have operated Army ASPs for the past several years, Soldiers
have not been adequately trained to do so—a fact that took a toll on those
who had to assume the task. To ensure that Soldiers charged with managing and
operating ASPs in the future are better equipped, leaders at all levels must
ensure they are thoroughly trained and cross-trained in these basic skills—
• Expenditure reporting.
• Munitions reporting.
• Use of the Training Ammunition Management Information System-Redesign
In normal garrison operations, unit ammunition managers are conditioned to open
Department of the Army (DA) Pamphlet 350–38, Standards in Weapons Training
Requirements Authorization (the “STRAC” [Standards in Training Commission]
manual), complete a DA Form 581, Request for Ammunition Issue/Turn-In, and submit
it. Presto! Forecasting is over and done in a few steps.
In a combat environment, however, things are a bit different. It is incumbent
on the munitions staff to work closely with the G–3 staff to anticipate
a unit’s operational needs and prevent possible overexpenditure of stocks
when combat operations bump up the unit’s operating tempo. Units can forecast
ammunition requirements accurately and justify increased orders by first performing
a robust mission analysis that concentrates on weapons density and anticipated
Historical expenditures can be used as a basis for forecasting future operational
requirements. For example, a recent combat operation in Iraq against armed
insurgents required nearly twice as many 5.56-millimeter, 7.62-millimeter, and
155-millimeter illumination rounds (used to spot infiltrating troops) as during
routine operations. Based on this statistic, a proactive unit munitions manager
would double the number of rounds he requests when combat operations are planned
or expected in the future.
Reporting goes hand in hand with forecasting and must be done daily in combat
operations. One issue that the 1st COSCOM Munitions Division has worked to resolve
during this deployment stemmed from the fact that many units either were reporting
their expenditures incorrectly or were not reporting them at all. Munitions
staffs became frustrated when requisitions were not filled or were delayed because
of incomplete and inaccurate expenditure reporting. In the future, expenditure
reporting should be a primary element of deployment mission training.
Like expenditure reports, timely munitions reports (MUREPs) are critical to mission
success. Together, the two reports provide an accurate picture of a unit’s “munitions
health.” The MUREP resides on the SIPRNET [Secret Internet Protocol Router
Network] and is used to monitor critical munitions on hand. Since users must
have established user names and passwords to access the system, a major hurdle
that is often encountered in theater results from the lag between the time
a deploying unit requests a password and the time it is received. Without a
password, the unit has only the ammunition basic load that it drew before deploying,
and it is unable to request more ammunition or submit a munitions report. During
this time, upper echelons have no visibility of the unit’s reports and
therefore cannot focus on issues typically identified in them. Units can prevent
this from happening by requesting new user names and passwords before they
leave their home stations. This will save leaders valuable time that they can
devote to other planning details.
|A 1st COSCOM
Munitions Division Soldier inspects aviation flares
at Logistics Support Area Anaconda in Balad, Iraq.
This automated system processes, stores, and retrieves
data on requirements for, and use of, training ammunition.
Most, if not all, units were already using
TAMIS–R to request their training ammunition. As we moved forward, MNC–I
directed the use of TAMIS–R to request operational loads as well. This
requirement was a challenge for units that had little or no experience with
the system. To remedy this situation, we deployed several training teams
to the forward operating bases to train units to use the system properly.
MNC–I, and the Army itself, are moving to an automated, paperless system
for requesting munitions. The speed of battle and constantly changing scenarios
have dictated that logisticians move quickly to streamline the supply chain
so that it will operate more efficiently. Learning to use TAMIS–R properly
is an integral step in accomplishing this. Therefore, units must integrate
a training program to better prepare themselves for the daily use of the system
in a fluid environment.
How should we train? Trainers should develop scenarios based on actual events
encountered over the scope of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom
deployments. These scenarios should incorporate as much cross-training as
possible. For example, Soldiers should be required to work as division ammunition
officers. In this capacity, they would be required to coordinate with other
staff elements and, based on named warning orders, operation orders, and
fragmentary orders, prepare logistics status reports, MUREPs, weapons density
expenditure reports that reflect the increased requirements of an upcoming
operation. By broadening the experiences of all of its Soldiers, the unit’s
capabilities will be maximized.
The combat logisticians of the 1st COSCOM Munitions Division served with tremendous
distinction during their deployment to Iraq from November 2004 to November
2005. Ammunition, as vital to Soldiers as MREs (meals, ready to eat) or fuel,
flowed throughout the theater with minimal disruption. In fact, as a result
of the forward thinking and astute planning involved in preparing for the
Iraqi elections in January 2005, ASPs across the theater were stocked well
stockage objectives, which ensured that ammunition would not be an issue
for anticipated follow-on operations.
The overarching lesson learned by the 1st COSCOM Munitions Division during
its deployment is that ammunition handlers and ammunition officers should be
placed back into home-station ASPs. Our Soldiers are being denied valuable
and necessary training because the functions of their specialties are being
It is true that we will turn over the theater to various contracting agencies
to continue the sustainment as we draw down forces and redeploy. However, if
we expect our Soldiers to perform at their maximum capabilities during future
combat and contingency operations, we must provide them the best possible training.
The best possible training for ammunition handlers and ammunition officers
is daily exposure to an ASP environment and hands-on training. By paying attention
to the details and gaining proficiency in these areas, we as sustainers
be able to move ammunition around the battlefield with greater efficiency,
which will ensure timely and accurate munitions support of our warfighters.
Placing Soldiers back into the daily operation of ASPs will give them an opportunity
to practice and hone the basic skills they need to fight and win today’s
Major Jay C. Land is the Deputy Support Operations Officer and Munitions
Division Chief for the 1st Corps Support Command (Airborne) at Logistics Support
Anaconda in Balad, Iraq. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics from
the University of Southern Mississippi and is a graduate of the Ordnance Officer
Basic and Advanced Courses and the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Course.