More than 80 U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from the 395th Ordnance Company received important training at Crane Army Ammunition Activity July 25-30 to learn the mission-specific skills they will need when they deploy to places like Afghanistan.
The Soldiers took part in Mobilized Ordnance Specific Training, or MOST, at Crane Army Ammunition Activity, which allows them to receive critical, job-specific training, unavailable at mobilization stations.
According to the 395th Ordnance Company Commander, Capt. Jonathan Bratz, the training is invaluable for the experience Soldiers might not normally receive related to the deployment mission.
“The mobilization site is not set up to train us in our ammo mission,” Bratz said. “They prepare us tactically and Crane helps prepare us technically. It is an important part of our complete readiness as an ammo unit.”
Soldiers performed a variety of ammunition jobs while at Crane. The training included typical ammunition activity type tasks including inventory, shipping, receiving, demolition and Material Handling Equipment work. It is part of the MOST program that allows the units to decide what will help them for deployments.
Because the experience level of the Soldiers can be varied, the training Reserve units do at ammunition activities and depots is critical to give ammunition handling experience.
“I feel the training has been really good,” said Sgt. Andrew Boettcher. “For a lot of the new Soldiers this has been the first time for them actually doing their mission. It is a good chance for them to get their feet wet. I have been doing this for a while, so to me it is something I have done before.”
“A lot of the new guys haven’t had a chance to do it before,” explained Boettcher. “They just came out of school so it is their first time doing it hands on, working with different types of ammunition.”
The added training time with ammunition is something Bratz has come to appreciate.
“The value (of the training) is very high, especially for the Soldiers who have not deployed,” he said. “Every time we work with ammo it increases knowledge and confidence. Often I have considerably more confidence in my Soldiers than they do in themselves. It is depot work like this that the unit has done in the past that brings us to the required level of knowledge and experience.”
“Then it is the leaders in the unit that have to help to finalize the confidence each Soldier requires to deploy,” he continued. “Plus working with live ammo instills safety and care of handling. You just can't get that with a box of sand with stencil marks on the side.”
In addition to working with ammunition, Crane Army Ammunition Activity’s seasoned, civilian workforce provides greater value to the training with their expertise.
“The civilians have been very good to us,” said Boettcher. “They have helped us out with anything we need. They are also informative. If you ask them questions they will help you out and give you the answers.”
The respect and appreciation between the Soldiers and civilians was experienced by both sides. Ammunition Handler Ed Kidwell said that he wished he could have them working at Crane every day because of their great attitude.
“They are great Reservists. They show up every day ready to work,” Kidwell said. “They work very hard and are very professional.”
Bratz said that although the Soldiers had to adjust to the type of workday and pace of the civilians, the Soldiers appreciated working with them.
“(The Soldiers) build great relationships with the employees at the Depot and many get invited home for dinner and recreational activities,” Bratz said. “Too bad we cannot say yes. The folks at Crane have been wonderful to work with and you can see that in the smiles on the Soldiers and the laughs when they get back in the evening.”
Crane Army Ammunition Activity has been assisting Reservists from all branches of the military for years, but being under MOST allows it to be better utilized by mobilizing units.
“Crane has been providing training to the Reserves for many years, but now being a MOST site the training we provide to the soldiers is being validated by 1st Army,” explained Lance Daters, Crane Army Ammunition Activity’s Reserve liaison. “This validation is an essential step a unit receives prior to deploying. I believe this puts an added sense of accomplishment knowing that what we do at Crane meets the established training requirements for deploying units.”
“Crane offers training which is tailored more specifically to a unit’s deploying mission,” said Daters. “This training can be altered throughout the units training evolution depending on the unit’s requests. Crane has this ability thanks in part to the Depot Operations AOC which monitors crews work schedules during the day giving the Reserve Command group the ability to make requests for changes during the day. I believe this puts Crane a step ahead by giving units more flexibility in their training goals/needs to meet their future mission requirements.”
Crane Army Ammunition Activity was established in Oct. 1977 and is located on Naval Support Activity Crane. The Army activity maintains ordnance professionals and infrastructure to receive, store, ship, produce, renovate and demilitarize conventional ammunition, missiles and related components.
Article by Thomas Peske, AMC