Sept 26, 2013 -- CAMP SCHWAB, Japan - Marines remove tarps protecting caches of ammunition, uncovering them, so they can start counting every single round. From 5.56 mm ball rounds to M67 fragmentation grenades and 12-gauge shotgun shells, no piece of ammunition goes uncounted before it is distributed to the units requiring it for training.
Marines with Ammunition Company maintained a field ammunition supply point Sept. 9-23 at Landing Zone Dodo in the Central Training Area. Ammunition Co. is assigned to 3rd Supply Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 35, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
The FASP provided the perfect opportunity to train Marines and heighten overall readiness when supporting training, exercises and operations across the Asia-Pacific.
“This exercise teaches the Marines how to receive, store and distribute ammunition from a field environment,” said Brig. Gen. Niel E. Nelson, commanding general of 3rd MLG. “You can’t get this from a standard bunker-to-bunker scenario at the regular ammunition supply point. This allows our Marines to know they have roving patrols, issue requirements, weather requirements; to validate the procedures for trucks coming in and out.”
Throughout the two-week evolution, Marines were challenged to maintain security while keeping precise counts of all the ammunition stockpiled at positions nearly 100 meters apart. Each cache was marked with a number depicting the type of ammunition being stored in regard to how dangerous an accidental ignition may be. One signified the most dangerous and four the least. If fires were to break out or the security of the position was compromised, firefighters and first-responders would be able to properly dispose of the respective ammunition.
In order to maintain accountability, the Marines navigated the concertina wire surrounding each pile and removed the protective tarp, which ensured limited exposure to adverse weather conditions.
Then the tedious but essential task of opening the wooden boxes and manually counting every round by hand began. The resulting manual total was compared to the numbers reported on an ammunition roster.
“While in the field, we have to keep the ammunition outside and secured by concertina wire and tarp to keep it safe from the elements,” said Lance Cpl. Jordan L. Morford, an ammunition technician with the company. “We keep account of all the ammunition fueling the operations in III MEF. Part of our job is to make sure the ammo is in good condition, boxed, stored and marked correctly.”
Like at a regular ammunition supply point, Marines operating the FASP do not distribute ammunition to units unless requests are approved in advance, according to Sgt. Damon R. Wheeler, an ammunition technician with the company.
“None of this ammunition goes anywhere without records telling Marines where to move it because records (are key in) keeping the overall accountability,” said Wheeler. “The Marines have a lot to learn about the procedures of operating an ASP from the field, but from what I have seen so far, the Marines are eager and anxious to do their job. Everything has been going well.”
In the Asia-Pacific region, the FASP is crucial to getting Marines ready for operations taking place in similar environments and amplifying their ability to support III MEF, according to Morford.
“This job is more important than some people realize,” said Morford. “Being out here enforces the precautions we have to take to protect the ammunition. Without us handling and distributing it properly, how would units in III MEF train (and operate) if there aren’t any bullets to fire?”