Transcript of "News release: Watervliet's $5.9 million contract will supply critical arms to Afghan soldiers"
U.S. ARMY WATERVLIET ARSENAL NEWS RELEASE John B. Snyder Public Affairs Officer U.S. Army Watervliet Arsenal FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Building 10, Room 102 Watervliet, NY 12189 Feb. 20, 2013 (518) 266-5055 Arsenal receives $5.9M contract that will support the transition of US troops from AfghanistanWATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. -- The Arsenal announced today that it received a $5.9 millioncontract to provide the Afghanistan National Army with nearly 900, 60mm mortar systems as part ofthe U.S. State Department’s Foreign Military Sales program.Col. Mark F. Migaleddi, the Arsenal commander, said at a recent production meeting to seniorArsenal leadership that this order is an aggressive fielding effort with up to 150 systems beingshipped per month. Fielding of these systems, and the indirect fire capability they provide, willsupport the speedy transition to a support role for U.S. forces, as well as the withdrawal of U.S.troops from the Afghanistan theatre of operations.“This order not only reflects the high confidence the Department of Defense has on the Arsenal’sability to rapidly support the war fighter, but also speaks volumes to the importance of DODmaintaining an Army-owned and -operated manufacturing center,” Migaleddi said.This multimillion dollar order will add to the Arsenal’s current workload more than 14,000 hours ofdirect labor, said Ray Gaston, the Arsenal’s chief of the Production Planning and Control Division.“Our first shipment of mortar systems is currently being assembled for shipment and will go out thismonth.”Bruce Pienkoski, the Arsenal’s program manager for processing this order, said the Arsenal wascontacted late last month by U.S. Army planners to see if the Arsenal could respond within 30 daysto an urgent need to get 60mm mortar systems to the Afghan army.“I can’t recall our working on such a quick turnaround to get our products out our gates since 2004,when we were called on to manufacture armor kits for U.S. troops in Iraq,” Pienkoski said. “Overthe course of six years, the Arsenal shipped more than 20,000 armor kits for U.S. forces in Iraq andAfghanistan.Why such urgency now? -more-
President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address on February 12 said that he intends tobring home nearly 34,000 troops from Afghanistan by 2014. This announcement came after thePresident hosted Afghanistan President Karzai at the White House in early January.At the conclusion of the Obama’s January meeting with Karzai, he said “…today, we agreed thatas Afghan forces take the lead and as President Karzai announces the final phase of the transition,coalition forces will move to a support role this spring. Our troops will continue to fight alongsideAfghans, when needed. But let me say it as plainly as I can: Starting this spring, our troops willhave a different mission – training…”Gaston said it took the entire Arsenal team, from contractors to machinists to shippers, to developthe production plan and to ship its first product within 30 days of getting the contract.“We knew we had to work fast because the faster we react and deliver these mortars into the handsof the Afghanistan solders, the sooner our U.S. soldiers can come home,” Gaston said.The main part of the contract requires the Arsenal to act as a staging area for the various parts ofthe 60mm mortar system that are being collected from other Army installations. Upon the receiptof the parts, which consists of such things as barrels and base plates, the Arsenal will package theminto complete mortar systems and then ship to Afghanistan. The contract also requires traditionalmanufacturing of select parts for the mortar system.The shipments should be complete by the end of August.The 60mm mortar system is used primarily by the infantry as an indirect fire weapon when a highangle trajectory is required to hit enemy troops, materiel, and positions. It has a maximum range ofabout 3,500 meters.The Watervliet Arsenal is an Army-owned-and-operated manufacturing facility and is the oldest,continuously active arsenal in the United States having begun operations during the War of 1812.Today’s Arsenal is relied upon by U.S. and foreign militaries to produce the most advanced, high-tech, high-powered weaponry for cannon, howitzer, and mortar systems. This National HistoricRegistered Landmark has an annual economic benefit to the local community in excess of $100million. ###Photos and cutlines are located at:http://www.flickr.com/photos/69610950@N03/sets/72157632810837475/