ATLANTIC CITY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.J. (AFNS) —
Master Sgt. Bryan ONeill, a range section chief at the 177th Fighter Wing’s Detachment 1, Warren Grove Bombing Range in Burlington County, New Jersey, determined that he could utilize the Defense Logistic Agency’s Reutilization Transfer Donation database of equipment to acquire pieces of demilitarized military equipment to create more realistic training environments for the unit’s F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots and joint terminal attack controllers, as well as Army, Navy and Marine Corps service members who train at the range.
“Annually at the range, we have an explosive ordnance disposal cleanup week and we will assess what the current targets look like because after these things are hit and strafed by A-10s (Thunderbolt II) with 30 mm rounds and 20 mm rounds from F-16s, over a period of time, they don’t look like tanks anymore,” ONeill said. “Once we determine the need to replace these things, I go to the RTD database to find equipment that has been turned in; everything from tanks to vehicles to CONEX boxes…just anything that can help us build a village or show that we’ve got heavy armored vehicles in a certain area. This just creates a more realistic target, rather than trying to build one out of wood, which wouldn’t stand up very long to the BDU 33 or BDU 50 practice bombs hitting it at least once or twice.”
According to the DLA’s public website DLA Disposition Services disposes of excess property received from the military to the tune of more than $2.2 billion worth of property reused each year for the past four years. Every dollar’s worth of property reutilized equals a tax dollar saved.
“We’re not looking for something that’s in really good shape so a lot of times we’ll look for the unserviceable assets that are left there that are really more for parts than anything else,” ONeill said.
“We have gotten some sheet metal modular targets representing a tank, an armored personnel carrier and some surface to air missile batteries which looked realistic to an aircraft flying above. They were modular so you could replace the sheet metal after a hit but it was time consuming and costs money. The current sheet metal targets we’ve received are now “no-drop” targets. They’re very high tech and they generate realistic heat signatures and radar signatures, but they cost close to $250,000, so it’s not cost effective to continue to put these things out there to have multiple target sets. It’s nice to have two or three of them that are operational if the aircraft that are coming in are looking to do that type of training, but for the most part, if they’re going (to) come in and drop a bomb, they’re going to need to drop a bomb on something that we’re not worried about repairing so much.“
In an email correspondence to ONeill, a representative from DLA wrote, “DLA has to pay taxpayer dollars to transport and pay taxpayer dollars to destroy and demilitarize required equipment such as APC, trucks, tanks and other vehicles and equipment per DoD (Defense Department) regulations. The use of these items for targets/training aids is a cost avoidance for both the taxpayer, DLA and a unit like the Warren Grove Range, and a win for the warfighter to have a valid, solid target to engage that is modern optics and sensor friendly.”
During the last fiscal year, five Air National Guard units saved a combined total of over $28 million by requisitioning property for use through the DLA Disposition Services Reutilization Program.
ONeill reflected on his roots as an Army reservist with the 24th Military Intelligence Battalion in Staten Island, New York, and his training at Fort Dix, Kelly Reserve Center and the Base Realignment and Closures which led him to join the ANG in 2000.
“I joined the 108th Air Refueling Wing in Security Forces and shortly after attending technical school, and a few drills, 9/11 happened. I deployed overseas, had a tour at Andrews (Air Force Base) guarding Air Force One and then was offered an opportunity to do a 90-day tour at the National Guard Bureau. That 90-day tour turned into 10 years….five with SFS, five at A3, Operations, at the NGB Range program manager for all 14 ANG ranges. After 10 years, I couldn’t wait to come back to NJ. When the supply position opened at WGR, I applied and got it.”
“This is a great process,” ONeill said. “All of the ranges do it, sort of create a shopping list. That’s what is so neat about working at the range; you get to be creative with building what you need to build to make it the most realistic training for these Airmen.”