US, Korea conduct ammunition retrograde operation

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A dockside gantry crane prepares to latch a 20 foot container estimated to be 35,000 pounds each containing various retrograde ammunitions at Jinhae Ammunition Pier on May 31. Photo by Pfc. Kim Sung-eun
A dockside gantry crane prepares to latch a 20 foot container estimated to be 35,000 pounds each containing various retrograde ammunitions at Jinhae Ammunition Pier on May 31. Photo by Pfc. Kim Sung-eun

US, Korea conduct ammunition retrograde operation

by: Pfc. Kim Sung-eun | .
U.S. Army | .
published: June 07, 2012

These retrograde ammunitions of War Reserve Stocks for Allies--Korea are being uploaded onto the Military Vessel Black Eagle, which will take them back to the United States.

The vessel operation marks the third phase of the four phases of the drill, following the planning (Apr. 2 to May 7) and staging-receiving (May 7 to May 25) stages.

"We are loading 20 feet containers of ammunitions that have been in Korea and are outdated," said Mr. David Johnson, Surface Deployment and Distribution Command 837th Transportation Battalion, transportation operation chief.

Retrograding outdated ammunitions is monetarily advantageous for the U.S. military.

"This is a very important mission. The Congress mandates us to carry out these missions twice a year and it saves thousands of dollars," Johnson said. "It takes outdated ammunitions out of Korea back to the U.S. where they can be refurbished and recycled for usage in other efforts."

The ROK and U.S. Army have a mutually constitutive role to play in the ammunition retrograde operation.

"The ROK does a lot of manpower and labor and we oversee the procedures," said Maj. Benjamin J. Steichen, 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command Support Operations, ammunition branch chief. "The U.S. and ROK army work together to ensure that we are both in sync with what we are doing."

These joint operations are held twice a year annually to strengthen U.S.-ROK alliance both symbolically and strategically.

"The port operation lets our American soldiers, Non-Commissioned Officers, officers, and deck civilians work hand-in-hand right here on the ROK port," said Johnson. "It gives us hands on training, planning, and coordination as a far as for the contingencies if need be. It is a real strength for the allies and the alliance."

The retrograde operation of WRSA-K marks one of the largest movements of ammunitions in the world.

"We are loading about 4.7 million net explosive weights of ammunitions," said Johnson. "It is the largest movement of ammunitions outside of Afghanistan."

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