Fort McCoy News February 14, 2014

Battalion trains '89 Bravo' ammunition specialists

STORY & PHOTOS BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Every military occupational specialty (MOS) provides the Army with a crucial piece in the success of the force. At Fort McCoy, the 13th Battalion, 100th Regiment provides training for Soldiers who are reclassifying to the "89 Bravo" MOS, an MOS that's in high demand throughout the Army.

Photo 1 for ASC article
Students in the 89B Ammunition Specialist Course practice moving simulated ammunition at Fort McCoy.

The 13th, 100th is an ordnance battalion that provides training and training support to Soldiers in the ordnance maintenance MOS series. The unit, aligned under the 3rd Brigade, 94th Division of the 80th Training Command, has been at Fort McCoy since about 1995.

The 89B MOS training they teach is the Ammunition Specialist Course (ASC). By Army definition, ammunition specialists are "specialized Soldiers responsible for the management of ordnance to include ammunition and explosives." They are tasked with receiving, storing and issuing conventional ammunition, guided missiles, large rockets, explosives and other ammunition and explosive-related items.

To become the specialized Soldiers needed for the field, the 13th, 100th teaches the 89B ASC in two phases. Phase one focuses on basic work such as ammunition and equipment familiarization, paperwork procedures and demolitions training. Phase two includes more "hands-on" training such as equipment operation and the use of the Palletized Load System.

Upon successful completion of both phases of the ASC, students are awarded the 89B MOS. One of the instructors explained how the phases work.

"Phase one is primarily how to use the manuals and computer systems," said Sgt. 1st Class Douglas Dobitz, one of the lead instructors for the course. "We also have a demolition day in phase one where the students learn the systems to prevent enemy capture of ammunition."

Photo 2 for ASC article
A student serves as a ground guide directing a forklift movement of simulated ammunition.

Dobitz said phase two is all hands-on training where students spend a lot of their time at the training area's ammunition storage point, or ASP.

"We also go to the Fort McCoy ASP and our motor pool, where the students will use 10,000-pound capable forklifts to move ammunition in phase two," Dobitz said.

Sgt. 1st Class Jacob Nelson, also an instructor for ASC, said between the two phases the students learn nearly everything there is to know about ammunition.

"They learn how to identify, package, store, ship and demolish all types of ammunition," Nelson said. "The equipment they also receive training on are those pieces of equipment that are typically associated with the 89B field. This training is really well-rounded in what it provides to the students."

Soldiers who attend the course represent the Guard, Reserve or active duty. Additionally, Soldiers in the course say the training is effectively preparing them for the demands of the career field.

"This training, especially phase two, is an intense familiarization of what we will need to do," said Staff Sgt. Ralph Walton, a student from the Pennsylvania National Guard's 728th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion at Spring City, Pa. "The course provides the classroom environment as much as it needs to be, and, at the same time, is providing the right amount of hands-on training so I get a decent understanding of the processes."

Those processes, according to Army requirements, include performing maintenance modification, destruction and demilitarization on ammunition and explosive components. They also perform ammunition supply stock control and accounting duties using both automated and manual procedures, as well as inspect weapon systems to determine need for repair or destruction.

This training also helps Soldiers build a better understanding of ammunition accountability, said student Master Sgt. Ron Ferguson from the National Guard Higher Headquarters Detachment, Joint Forces Headquarters Virginia at Fort Pickett, Va.

"We learn how to better track ammunition, which results in better accountability," Ferguson said. "That also results in cost savings related to the amount of ammunition supply that is needed."

For students like Master Sgt. Jonathon Alred, a career military police (MP) Soldier from the Alabama National Guard's 167th Theater Sustainment Command at Fort McClellan, Ala., learning new tactics, techniques and procedures in ASC is building a broader range of knowledge that complements his experience as an MP. The style of the training, he said, also is important.

"Throughout this training, you are putting theory into play," Alred said. "The way the course is taught here with the hands-on training, I believe, is more beneficial to a lot of the students. They can better learn the basic tasks, improve at doing those tasks, and, in the end, take this training back to their units where it benefits the unit, as well."

Another important aspect of the training is safety, said Sgt. Brandon Pope, a student from the Indiana National Guard's 38th Sustainment Brigade at Kokomo, Ind.

"The course offers all the right training for us to become ammunition specialists," Pope said. "And, as a result, because caring for ammunition in the right way is so important, it also helps keep people safe. Safety is paramount when you are dealing with ammunition."

Dobitz said the design of the class and its instructors help students grasp all the training well.

"In addition to knowing the material well, the instructors here add to the student experience by sharing things we have learned through life experience," Dobitz said. "We pass this on and hopefully help Soldiers to have a prosperous career in this field. It's all about the Soldier care along with the course material."

In all phases of the 89B ASC at Fort McCoy, the cadre and staff leading the course say they remain dedicated to providing the best available training anywhere.

"We, as a group, take great pride in the students who have passed through these doors," Dobitz said.

Nelson added, "I believe we have the best instructors and staff who are dedicated to providing the best possible training for 89B in the country. This is one of the most important fields in the military whether it's peacetime or war. We will continue to do our best."

Each year, the 13th, 100th conducts at least 14 course tracks of ASC and graduates more than 170 Soldiers at a 99 percent or better success rate, Dobitz said. Fort McCoy is the only training base for the 89B MOS for reclassification. Soldiers being trained in the 89B MOS for technical training after basic training go to Fort Lee, Va.