07 June 2008

AT08--Day 4

Barracks at Ft. Chaffee

The big event today was picking up a bunch of ammo on several tractor trailers and hauling it about a mile. We went out to the motor pool at 0520 (wakeup was at 0500, but I was smart and set my alarm for 0450 so I could have a little time to wake up before I had to get going), PMCSed, did 626 inspections, then drove to the ASP checkpoint to get our trucks inspected. They also inspected all of our paperwork: our military IDs, civilian driver's licenses, military driver's licenses, and HAZMAT (Hazardous Materials) certification cards. A couple of people had military licenses that, even though they had been issued the night before, were expired. All our military licenses were issued in a rush last night to put the Hazmat certification on them for today's mission, but then the inspectors said that all we needed was the certification card. Oops.

I was tasked to check each and every fire extinguisher to make sure each truck had two good ones. I sent one back because it was very slightly overcharged...no big deal, only an eagle-eyed inspector would have rejected it. But one truck didn't even HAVE two extinguishers! How does that work? You're told that the inspections are rigorous, that one failed item means you can't load ammo on your truck, given time to check over the trucks, a form that tells you what to check, told several times that each truck needs two 10:BC extinguishers, and you don't actually bother to check to see if you have them! How does that happen? And it wasn't enen two green privates; one was an E-5 Sergeant. I jus don't understand the motivation behind that kind of sloppiness.

Anyway, the problems were fixed, and we drove into the actual Ammo Supply Point proper. It's a fairly new, very secure set of bunkers with grass growing on top of them, set close together (this is a little odd; usually they are set far apart to reduce the risk of sympathetic explosions. I guess they've found a better way. The Army doesn't screw around with explosives safety, on that level at least; it's been burned too many times before). I would post a picture here, but I didn't take one as I presume it would be a no-no; don't want to provide intel to someone who might want to break in and steal some ammo.

Anyway, it took forever to coordinate with the people who knew what we needed and start loading, but once it started it went fairly steadily. They would forklift pallets of ammo of various kinds onto our trailer, and we had to strap them down and then placard the vehicle with the proper warning labels for the most dangerous class of explosives on the truck. My assistant driver (A-driver) amused herself (and impressed a couple of people) by figuring out, from the codes on the boxes and the book we got from our hazmat class, what the class and compatibility codes for each type of ammo (bullets, blanks, flares, smpke, etc.) was. You can't just throw ammo on a truck; for various safety reasons, certain types can't be loaded with certain other types. She didn't need to, as the ASP guys knew all that, but she wanted the practice.

Once we finally all loaded and strapped, we drove to the AHA to drop off the trailers, which was about a mile or less from the ASP. The whole process took about eight hours. So, as I told Jenn, we drove a mile in eight hours.