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How we found Sharana yard ...
Around Halloween 2012, we were approached by 1st Theater Support Command and Regional Command East, with a vexing problem … large quantities of property requiring demilitarization were located at Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) without Disposition Services Sites nearby. Every load of demilitarization -required equipment had to ship via an U.S. Army logistics truck, risking an American crew across the hostile roads of Afghanistan.
The big idea was Hub Based Disposal Operations. A concept consisting of forward located Government Service Disposition Services Representatives (DSRs) and uniformed Expeditionary Disposal Remediation Team (EDRT) members receiving and processing excess, obsolete or battle-damaged equipment across the Afghanistan Area of Operations. Building upon our corporate knowledge and military skill sets, our Disposition Services Afghanistan (DS-AFG) Area Manager, Vickie Rodgers, and I expanded the capabilities of DLA DS-AFG in ways never before explored.
We knew how to demilitarize in our big, fixed sites like Bagram and Kandahar … why “move the mountain to us, when we can go to the mountain?” Every truck kept off the road saves about $3,000 in transportation, every five trucks keeps one gun truck off the road, the sound of saving lives and saving money had a good ring to the DS-AFG crew. By targeting property forward in the retrograde cycle and conducting scrap removals, our fixed DS-AFG yards remain more open and efficient.
Starting with a real fireball of site chief, Don Phillips, and parlaying that with the zeal and military leadership of Lt. j.g. Kurt Daubs and LSCS Maissa Mallore, a full-blown training facility was set up at Bagram for all current and incoming EDRTs. Rodgers and her team of DSRs adeptly educated EDRTs to new skill levels, adding a new weapon in the war on metal – the Petrogen Torch.
Relationships with our customers and supporting elements were key enablers. Together, with my Support Operations officer, 1st Lt. Jeremy Sims, the DS-AFG had fully integrated itself with the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Material Retrograde Element (CMRE) and the Base Closure Process – headquartered at Kandahar Air Field. The CMRE was able to put its eyes forward, sending Base Closure Assessment Teams to FOBs, working with the EDRT planners to best prioritize EDRT capabilities, and plan support for EDRT/HBDO operations in theater. Without the “hip-to-hip” relationship with the CMRE at Kandahar, these operations would have been severely crippled.
As our people trained in Bagram, I was approached by Maj. Tom Krupp, who was serving with 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion (CSSB), a Kandahar-based leading element of the CMRE. Maj. Krupp had located a FOB just begging for HBDO attention – many materials and a difficult place to travel, FOB Sharana would be our first target – a chance to “delight our customers.” In less than 90 days from concept to execution, the first Hub Based Disposal Operation was now a reality.
Leveraging military assets with the experience of two of our civilian DSRs, Chance Young and Merrill “Sonny” Waugh, a dedicated helicopter transported 400 lbs. of equipment, our EDRT Team and our DSRs to FOB Sharana. Life support and vehicular support was arranged to augment our team’s activities.
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All picked up, and ready for more.
With knowledge passing from the DSRs to the EDRTs, the project was underway. Team leader LS3 Lucas Benavidez described the evolution. “I love this stuff, I get to destroy things with fire and sledge hammers and I am actually working,” he explained. “No really, I am a reservist and not only am I working hard to support the war fighter but I am learning a marketable skill for when I get back home.”
In less than three weeks, the “little team that could” demilitarized more than 680,000 pounds of controlled property, translating into 60 logistics trucks and 12 gun trucks – 168 soldiers kept out of harm’s way – and $180,000 in reduced shipping costs. With the FOB Sharana established, surrounding “spoke” FOBs are sending their demilitarization-required property to our HBDO team for disposition.
Future teams are being trained and equipped to secure DLA DS-AFG’s place in the history books for this conflict.
By Cmdr. Jack May, SC, USN, Officer-In-Charge, DLA Disposition Services - Afghanistan