By Lucy Engebretsen, Hawthorne Army Depot
“It’s amazing how much open land there is in the West! It’s great that the Army owns this depot.” said Brig. Gen. Kristin K. French as she drove through the town of Hawthorne en route to another part of the Hawthorne Army Depot on Jan. 13.
French is the commanding general of the Joint Munitions Command. JMC operates a nationwide network of conventional ammunition manufacturing plants and storage depots, and provides on-site ammunition experts to U.S. combat units wherever they are stationed or deployed. As part of the JMC enterprise, HWAD is an archive site for storing slow-moving ammunition and stocks awaiting demilitarization.
French began her tour of the depot with a stop at the Cat Creek Dam which was constructed in 1931 at the total original cost of $100,000. French learned about the self-sustainment of the Hawthorne Army Depot at its desert location as Lt. Col. Craig Short, commander, HWAD, pointed out some of the unique attributes of the site.
The next stop was a tour of a research and development project being conducted for the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center by Sandia Labs. Currently, SOC Nevada LLC is operating this newly developed line to finalize the process for production. SOC’s R&D project manager, Lotus Rubert, provided an overview of the grenade download project and explained the automated process of cone and explosive removal from M42 grenades.
French asked about how buildings were selected for the various projects at HWAD. She stressed the importance of visualizing the end-state of the project from the inception of the idea to its fruition. She commented that the appropriate upgrades can be determined and implemented after the building is selected. She remarked to George Gram, SOC Nevada LLC’s general manager that his selection of the building for the project was a great fit.
The upgraded lighting system in the building was also showcased. French shared her experience working as a second lieutenant in a warehouse in poor lighting and the eye strain it caused.
“Good lighting is an important safety factor,” she affirmed.
SOC staff demonstrated additional capabilities within the Western Area Demilitarization Facility to the visiting general. Included in their discussion with French and Short of the melt-out, steam-out demilitarization process was the need to reduce waste and reclaim and recycle material while continuing to be cost-conscious of the tax-payers’ dollars.
French talked about the importance of each installation to share knowledge and expertise across the enterprise to ensure that the most efficient and cost-effective methods are being utilized. The depot’s collaborative efforts to improve the air quality in two buildings were unique examples of knowledge sharing.
Short provided an overview of storage operations and training capabilities to French. After viewing Rocket Mountain (named for the 2.75 and 5 inch rockets originally tested there), they stopped at the memorial site for the fallen Marines, from the training incident in March 2013, to remember their sacrifice.
French emphasized the importance of looking ahead in every situation that we are involved with.
“What is out there waiting to happen next? We need to look ahead and see,” she said.
“This is one of those places where you all are family and take care of one another,” French commented after touring the town and depot.
“Hawthorne Army Depot is a gem for the Army and a gem for the Department of Defense. We want to maintain our capabilities here to grow and expand,” said French to the HWAD staff.