The U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville’s Joint Munitions Disposal - Afghanistan (JMD-A) team has wrapped up its mission disposing of more than 5,629 tons of U.S. and coalition forces NATO Condition Code H unserviceable and “do-not-return” munitions, as well as captured enemy munitions and explosive remnants of war (ERW).
“It’s been awesome to work on this program,” said Chase Hamley, JMD-A project manager in Huntsville Center’s Ordnance and Explosives Directorate (OE) International Operations Division, who has been on the program since it began. “It was a very easy thing to get out of the Army and move into a job that deployed me to support Soldiers. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
In support of U.S. Forces – Afghanistan, Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade and 1st Sustainment Command (Theater), the JMD-A team coordinated disposal efforts with the military units leaving country and managed the munitions disposal contract with Sterling Global Operations Inc., headquartered in Lenoir City, Tennessee, which specializes in demining, ERW clearance and management of ammunition physical security and stockpiles.
Hamley summed up the biggest challenge with one word: logistics. Security and safety were top concerns every step of the way, as there were a lot of moving pieces and a high level of risk.
“Being in multiple locations throughout Afghanistan, having to build the [demolition] shots within the ammunition supply point into shot boxes, then having to transport them out to a demolition area off post, and keeping civilians away from the area when we are setting up and detonating the shots – and the security and coordination that go along with that.”
Huntsville Center OE teams were first involved in captured enemy ammunition disposal in Iraq from 2003 to 2006. They transitioned their expertise to coalition munitions clearance and disposal programs destroying more than 400,000 tons of ammunition in Iraq through 2011.
Joint munitions disposal efforts in Afghanistan began in 2012. With demolition completed in April, all that remains are a few administrative and logistical functions that should be closed out by July, Hamley said.