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‘Operation Clean Sweep’

 

Written by Spc. Michael Vanpool
101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (AA) Public Affairs

101st Sustainment Brigade - LifelinersFort Campbell KY, 101st Airborne Division

Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan – “There’s a lot of ammo out there from the past 10 years,” said Capt. Marjorie Samples. “It’s handed from unit to unit, year to year.”

The 101st Sustainment Brigade “Task Force Lifeliner” is leading a process, called “Operation Clean Sweep,” to sweep through Regional Command East by inventorying ordnance, sending the old ammunition off smaller outposts, and preparing better storage for the future.

“It’s an effort to address ammunition and explosive issues in the battlespace after ten years of war,” said Samples, the ammunition (Class V) officer in charge for support operations, 101st Sustainment Brigade. “Some of the issues are excess ammo, unserviceable ammo and improper storage of ammo.”

Spc. Frank Barnes, an ammunition specialist for the 592nd Ordnance Company, a reserve unit from Billings, Mont., attached to the 142nd Combat Sustainment Support Battlalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, inspects an Air Force pallet with ordnance preparing for an air delivery to outlying forward operating bases. All ammunition destined for FOBs in Northern, Central and Eastern Afghanistan passes through the 592nd. (Photo by Spc. Michael Vanpool)

Spc. Frank Barnes, an ammunition specialist for the 592nd Ordnance Company, a reserve unit from Billings, Mont., attached to the 142nd Combat Sustainment Support Battlalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, inspects an Air Force pallet with ordnance preparing for an air delivery to outlying forward operating bases. All ammunition destined for FOBs in Northern, Central and Eastern Afghanistan passes through the 592nd. (Photo by Spc. Michael Vanpool)

The Class V section worked with Combined Joint Task Force – 1st Cavalry, U.S. Forces – Afghanistan and Joint Munitions Command to stand up five teams to sweep throughout the battlefield.

“We’re practically sweeping and cleaning the battlespace,” Samples said, “and getting the ammo retrograded for us to prepare to leave theater.”

The teams worked with the task forces in charge of each battlespace, and they are composed of explosive safety representatives, quality assurance specialists (ammunition specialist) and engineer representatives.

Ammunition handlers, pulled from the 142nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Sust. Bde., were also trained up to help with the sweep. The handlers are a mixture of truck drivers, mechanics and fuelers, so the ammunition specialists of the 592nd Ordnance Company, a reserve unit from Billings, MT, attached to the 142nd CSSB, gave a crash course to prepare for the mission.

The 592nd trained the handlers before they set off for the austere outposts. The 592nd operates the Bagram Ammunition Supply Point, the single location that resupplies ammo for Regional Command North, East and Capitol.

“The largest part of the mission was inspection and packaging the ammunition,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Lugenbill, the ASP operations non-commissioned officer in charge for the 592nd. “After that, they’d have a basic knowledge to handle the ammo.”

The 15 handlers learned how to inventory, palletize and retrograde ammo. “They could use that knowledge to send the good ammo back to Bagram back in to the ASP, and the bad ammo would be retrograded,” Lugenbill said.

After a month of learning, working and sweating at the ASP here, each of the handlers joined the rest of their team and moved out.

“The teams left here and went into each battlespace, exploring hazards and conducting 100 percent inventories at each site,” Samples said. “We’re focusing on the smaller company-sized [combat outposts].”

When the teams land at a COP, they find all the ammo on the small bases. The ammo is sifted through, the holding areas are inspected, and the teams retrograde some of the ammo back to Bagram.

Storing ammo is a complicated task. The engineers on each team work with the COPs to re-fit their ordnance holding areas, to protect the future ammo from the elements and separating the rockets and the bullets. “The engineer tells the COPs how to store their ammo, where to store it, and mitigate any hazards,” Lugenbill said.

“Once all of this is complete, they go to a different COP in the battlespace,” Samples said.

As they leave, the task forces and commanders say they are appreciative of the work the teams are doing for their outposts and soldiers.

“We’re hearing back from the battlespace owners how knowledgeable these guys are and how easy the process is going,” Lugenbill said.

Each team is scheduled to visit 25 to 30 outposts during the next few months. The teams stood up and headed out this month, and they are prepared to continue on with operation until December.


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