OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Saying goodbye to your favorite toys is always hard to do. But sometimes, decluttering your overflowing “toy chest” of excess ammunition and giving them to partners in need across the globe is rewarding.
Recently, the 51st Munitions Squadron conducted their own “toy” giveaway involving a $13 million ammo transfer to Jinhae Port, Jinhae-gu, Republic of Korea, for international maritime shipping.
Formally known as a retrograde or call-forward op, the 51st MUNS shipping/receiving crew accounted for, inspected and prepared serviceable assets alongside the 51st Logistics Readiness Squadron on their 200-mile journey to the Korean Peninsula’s southern coast.
“Our (retrograde) movements are a way to get assets, like small arms, to other organizations that can better use or dispose of them,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Bryan Lockhart, 51st MUNS shipping/receiving shop chief. “This reduces demilitarization and disposal costs, as well as creating much needed storage space for Osan.”
Lockhart credits the 51st MUNS new shipping/receiving element as the driving force behind overflow reductions, making retrogrades more effective.
“We’ve created the new shipping/receiving element to work these transports, along with air and land transport,” Lockhart said. “There are only a few other bases with these elements which are typically at depot locations. With our creation, we’ve been able to eliminate backlogged shipments and conquer these massive munitions movements with minimal manning.”
According to Lockhart, past retrograde movements would employ 20 or more Airmen from multiple elements to execute missions on a short deadline. Now, shipping/receiving can accomplish these operations with eight Airmen fully dedicated to planning and conducting asset shipments, saving the Department of Defense money with cost effective bulk movements.
However, this new process hasn’t come to fruition without obstacles.
“The biggest challenge we had was the coordination and planning phases,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua Walker, 51st MUNS shipping/receiving crew chief. “It’s imperative that we have 100 percent accuracy and are scheduled to meet our deadlines. Our assets are part of a much larger shipment and we cannot afford to miss deadlines because freightliners will depart with or without our assets.”
Advancing past South Korea’s city and landscapes, the 51st MUNS and 51st LRS maneuvered past high cranes and massive ships at Jinhae Port. Caravanning their line-haul, they successfully delivered their assets to the 607th Material Maintenance Squadron’s water port transportation team.
Commuting back, looking at the rear-view mirror’s reflecting images of their transported assets, Walker feels gratified for the five months’ worth of work coming to the finish line.
“Completing this (retrograde) was one of the hardest tasks we’ve done as the 51st MUNS,” said Walker. “With everyone involved, our reward is knowing that everything made it without any issues. We have gained a massive amount of knowledge from this and have successfully stood-up a specialized element to handle the upcoming shipments in the future. We are going to continue this process and pass down what we have learned to our replacements that will eventually take over.”