This is a prime example of an all civilian operation, and what it could accomplish if done right. Every aspect of this was civilian, from the munitions destruction, to the security, to the logistics and camp management, to the surveillance of the camp perimeter–all of it civilian.  The only part not civilian was one Army Corps of Engineers guy watching over the whole thing, and that was it! Pretty radical if you ask me, and this was only the first generation of the concept.  Imagine if this same model was optimized, and retooled for let’s say Afghanistan?

    Also, will the media ever recognize the significance of this camp?  How about the sacrifice of contractors for this program?  A good number of contractor deaths in Iraq, came from the mobile teams at the various sites.  How about the sacrifices made by the local nationals or other expats that were a part of this project?  ACE made this public announcement late last year, and I am sure they would love to answer more questions about the project, and it’s impact on Iraq.

    But back to the statistics, because they speak for themselves.  Destroying old munitions is dangerous and tedious work, and the sheer magnitude of this operation boggles the mind.  346,000 short tons of munitions destroyed?  Amazing.  Now imagine if we applied the same concept of these camps and mobile teams, to road building in Afghanistan, or for what Tim was talking about with his The Yellow article?  But first it would require the war strategists out there to take a second look at this model of doing business, and ‘build that snowmobile’ for Afghanistan.

    On a side note, the concept of a Combat Outpost is interesting to me, because in essence, that is what these CMC remote camps were.  They were camps protected by Hescoes and set up right next to the work site and local populations. The CMC remote camps, were Combat Outposts.

    So with that said, when I hear stories about how soldiers are stuck doing camp duties, as opposed to out patrolling, I think to myself–why not use civilians to run your Combat Outpost? We are used for the big bases, but why not use us for these smaller bases in order to increase the combat effectiveness of our troops?  For an extensive collection of articles about the concept of the Combat Outpost, check out the Captain’s Journal story about the subject. –Matt

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Ordnance cleanup mission changes in Iraq 

 By Debra Valine, U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville

November 21, 2008

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has accomplished its mission of mobile ordnance cleanup in Iraq, and will now move operations to a stationary location near Baghdad.

In a change of mission ceremony Nov. 21 in Iraq, the Coalition Munitions Clearance (CMC) Program ended, and the effort to destroy unusable munitions became the Coalition Munitions Disposal (CMD) Program.

Under the CMC Program, mobile teams traveled the country destroying caches of enemy ammunition. The operation was managed by the Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville.landmine check

“The ammunition sites that were a concern have all been cleared and the ammunition depot has been turned over to the Iraqi army for their control and operation,” said Bill Sargent, Huntsville Center’s CMC and CMD program manager.

The new CMD mission will involve a centralized collection point for disposing of unserviceable U.S. ammunition and unexploded ammunition recovered by the field units during their operations. The site will also destroy any caches of munitions found and brought to the site.

“During the past five years, and through the successful partnership with U.S. Army Central and Huntsville Center, this $1.5 billion program destroyed more than 346,000 short tons of explosive remnants of war at 51 clearance sites, denying the enemy the use of these hazardous materials for improvised explosive devices that would have caused untold loss of life and property,” said Col. Rock Donahue, director, Multi-National Corps-Iraq, Engineers.

At the height of the program, 18 mobile teams were operating in Iraq to support the CMC mission, and local national labor and subcontractors were hired at each of the 51 clearance sites.

An estimated 600,000 tons of enemy ammunition was captured following the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. This deadly harvest had to be disposed of, and in July 2003, Huntsville Center’s Ordnance and Explosives Directorate received the Captured Enemy Ammunition disposal mission. CEA provided assistance in the controlling and disposing of massive stockpiles of munitions in Iraq.

The CEA mission evolved into the CMC program and the Depot Operations Program in February 2006. The CMC program was tasked with the subsurface clearance of previously destroyed ammunition sites in Iraq, while the Depot Operations Program was tasked with standing up and operating two ammunition depots for the newly-formed Iraqi army.

Story here.