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U.S. Army Watervliet Arsenal Newsletter: The Salvo 30 November 2013


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Here are the latest stories and photos from the past month.

Here are the latest stories and photos from the past month.

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  • 1. THE SALVO Quiet professionals keep machines humming Story on page 3 Vol. 13, No. 11 U.S. Army Watervliet Arsenal Nov. 30, 2013 Photo by John B. Snyder
  • 2. Page 2 Salvo Nov. 30, 2013 Commander’s Corner As my first holiday season at the arsenal approaches, I am finding myself thinking more and more about my fellow soldiers and the great men and women who I have the pleasure to serve with here. In my last month’s column, I talked about the great work that you achieved in FY 2013 despite the significant challenges you had to work through. For this month, I want to touch on the significant challenges that reside within our workforce and community. We often hear about those in the community whose lives have been shaken by disasters such as tropical storms and house fires. We also read stories of how the slow recovery out of the recent recession has placed many local families in great need. We support our fellow citizens and neighbors during these tough times via the Combined Federal Campaign, which by the way the campaign is still running until January 15. We also support many local families through the holiday toy drive for the Troy Salvation Army. You probably have seen the collection boxes outside the snack bars. But what we may not hear about is how one of our own may be struggling. Given the state of our local and national economy the arsenal continues to provide a good standard of Commander, Col. Lee H. Schiller Jr. Public Affairs Officer, John B. Snyder Editor, John B. Snyder Photographer: John B. Snyder Arsenal Facebook Page @ Cover Photo: Joseph DeCrescenzo, left, and James Best. living to hundreds of arsenal families. Nevertheless, that financial fact does not mean that we don’t have people in need, too. The need may be financial but sometimes it is more than that. But if we never ask, how would we know? I ask each of you this holiday season to take a look left and right in your work areas and look for signs and indications of people in need of support. Then, let’s work together to help one of our own. We do great work supporting the community, but we owe it to ourselves to support one from our team who may need support. I wish you the very best for a great holiday season…you have certainly earned it. Please be safe over the holidays by taking an extra moment to consider each potentially unsafe or high risk activity before you engage it. Lee H. Schiller Jr. Commanding Manufacturer 6 The Arsenal Salvo is an authorized monthly publication for members of the Department of Defense. Contents of the Salvo are not necessarily the official views of, or an endorsement by the U.S. Government, the Department of Defense, the Department of the Army, or the Watervliet Arsenal. News may be submitted for publication by sending articles to Public Affairs Officer, 1 Buffington Street, Bldg. 10, Watervliet, NY 12189, or stop by office #102, Bldg. 10, Watervliet Arsenal. The editor may also be reached at (518) 266-5055 or by e-mail: The editor reserves the right to edit all information submitted for publication.
  • 3. Page 3 Salvo Nov. 30, 2013 Historical challenge to maintain production at 200-year-old arsenal and repair, they also work on machine hydraulics, computers, and new machine emplacements,” Jensen said. “And Located in a rarely visited World War I era building at when we discover through our diagnosis that a machine is the Watervliet Arsenal is a small team of 27 electrical me- down due to a non-electrical part, we often work with tool chanics who have the awesome responsibility to provide makers to make a new part or we work with logisticians to maintenance support to more than 600 industrial machines order a new part.” that are spread out over one million square feet of manuIn the latest year, there were more than 3,000 work orfacturing space. ders that faced the 27-person team, Jensen said. Some of The shear scope of responsibility to maintain an Army the work orders may be something as simple as replacing manufacturing center is unbelievably a fuse to doing periodic maintenance stressful and so, why would anyone to working on something as big as want to face such a high workload installing a new lathe. every day? But some do and the arBecause of the various skill sets senal is fortunate to have such folks and the amount of years of experiwhose sense of duty to the arsenal ence these electricians have ̶ the and to Soldiers drives their daily amount of experience just at the work ethic. arsenal ranges from 1 year to more To help define and to better unthan 38 years ̶ there is not a chalderstand the extent of their worklenge that cannot be met. load, one must delve deep into the At a metal lathe in one of the bowels of the arsenal’s manufacturproduction bays this month, was ing center. such an example of blending variWithin this fleet of machines, ous talents into one team to tackle a which range from 40-foot lathes that very challenging repair. Thirty-sixwork in tens of thousandths of inch year employee, Electrical Technitolerances to machines that place up cian James Best, was working with to 1,000 tons of pressure on howitzer 5-year electrician, Industrial Control and tank tubes, are other significant Electronic Mechanic Joseph Dechallenges. About two-thirds of the Crescenzo. machines are state-of-the-art com“Just because I have been here Photo by John B. Snyder puter controlled, while one-third is Clark Wetzel, an arsenal electrical control memore than 36 years doesn’t mean that chanic, troubleshoots one of the newer machines. from the machining days prior to I have seen all the challenges that Wetzel served six years in the U.S. Navy. computers. In fact, on some of the these machines can throw at you,” production floors one might find a recently delivered maBest said. “That is why it is important that we work as a chine next to one that was manufactured 50, 60, or even team so that we can leverage our accumulation of knowl70 years ago. edge to respond to any challenge.” Despite whether or not the machinery touts the latest Someone who is not familiar with this team might bein technology, they all serve a purpose. And because they lieve the stress levels would be unbelievably high given do, they all need to be properly maintained and operathe scope of their responsibility, but it isn’t. tional. “The entire team thrives on a challenge,” said Clark But according to Robert Jensen, the arsenal’s industrial Wetzel, one of the newer additions to the team who joined electronics supervisor, maintenance and repair of machine the arsenal after having served six years in the Navy as electronics is only a part of the overall responsibilities rean electrical specialist. “When you stop learning that is quired of his team. when its gets boring. I can tell you that it never gets bor“My mechanics not only perform electrical diagnosis ing here.” John B. Snyder
  • 4. Page 4 Salvo Nov. 30, 2013 Who knew the arsenal has Soldiers in Slacks? By John B. Snyder Photo provided by Robert Spetla There was a term the former Third Army commander, Lt. Gen. R. Steven Whitcomb, often used to describe the Army civilian force that supported the ground operations in many of the 25 countries in his area of responsibility. He said in his Third Army commander’s column in April 2006 that, “My purpose today is to voice my support and appreciation for our ‘Soldiers-in-Slacks.’ You have heard me use that term since I took command of Third Army to refer to our civilian work force, both our DOD civilians as well as our contractors. These men and women don’t usually get the same recognition as our uniformed service members so I want to recognize their value to what we do as a team and point out some facts about their service.” Whitcomb went on to say that America has never fought a war like this one (Iraq), where the enemy is nowhere and everywhere. It is a war without a front, where the burdens and sacrifice of combat are shared by military and civilian alike. In a small Army post in upstate New York, the Watervliet Arsenal has also had its share of Soldiersin-Slacks. Although they don’t receive the fanfare from the community when they deploy that one would find for a unit deployment, they nevertheless deploy with the same sense of pride and dedication to our country. Robert “Bob” Spetla is one of the arsenal’s most recent Soldier-in-Slacks. Bob, who is a Veteran of the U.S. Navy, graduated from the arsenal’s apprentice program in 1986 and eventually left the arsenal in 1989. For nearly 16 years he worked in the medical manufacturing indus- Robert “Bob” Spetla is one of the arsenal’s most recent Soldier-inSlacks who has recently deployed into a war zone. Bob works in Benét Laboratories’ Breech Lab and well represents all arsenal civilians who have deployed into combat. try but said that he had always longed for a return to the Army’s arsenal. In 2005, Bob got his wish and began work as a quality control inspector for the arsenal’s operations directorate. Then, in 2007, Bob was offered a job in the Army’s Benét Laboratories as an engineering technician where he has since worked in the breech fatigue lab. But as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continued, Bob’s sense of duty was pulling him to join the fight. “I don’t know if it was my former service in the Navy or just a sense that I wanted to be a part of something bigger that pushed me to volunteer to deploy,” Bob said. “Nevertheless, I thought daily about my making a difference in a war zone until an opportunity arose for me to answer my call to duty.” In October 2012, Bob saw a job announcement for a mechanical engineering technician who was needed in Afghanistan. He immediately signed up, then deployed to Afghanistan in November of that year for a six-month deployment as part of a team of U.S. Army civilian engineers with the mission to develop fieldexpedient solutions for Soldiers. “We had quite an operation set up at the Bagram airbase,” Bob said. “Whatever the Soldiers needed, we had an opportunity to fabricate the products that eiStory continues on page 5, Slacks
  • 5. Page 5 Salvo Nov. 30, 2013 Slacks Cont. ther made the Soldiers more survivable or improved their quality of life.” Bob said he and his team of six fabricated such things as sniper screens to IED protection systems to brackets for night vision devices. “It was all about helping the Soldier wherever we could to make a difference,” Bob added. Bob returned home in April of this year more proud of his service and with a better perspective of just how important the work is that the Watervliet Arsenal performs to support the war fighter. Robert Spetla well represents all Watervliet Arsenal “Soldiers-in-Slacks” who have deployed and is very deserving to be called this month’s arsenal’s Face of Strength. He has proven that the burdens and sacrifice of combat are shared by the military and arsenal civilians alike…just as Whitcomb described. --------------- Photo by Summer Barkley, 401st AFSB Public Affairs Robert Spetla, right, receiving a certificate of appreciation from Lt. Col. Jose L. Polanco, commander of the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment. Benét Laboratories is a Department of the Army research, development and engineering facility located at the Watervliet Arsenal. It is a part of the Weapons & Software Engineering Center (WSEC) that is within the Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center (ARDEC), and is located at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. Arsenal did its duty to honor our nation’s Veterans Photos by John B. Snyder
  • 6. Page 6 Salvo Nov. 30, 2013 NY communities, arsenal build teams to mitigate disasters By John B. Snyder Walking into the arsenal’s historic Big Gun Shop one might expect to see heavy manufacturing running on the floor. After all, it was in this building in the late 1880s the Watervliet Arsenal was transformed from a maker of saddles to a maker of cannons. And, although there was a significant amount of activity in this building last week, it wasn’t all about manufacturing. Beyond the cannon tubes that were being readied for shipment, and on the spot where 16-inch cannons were once manufactured for U.S. Navy battleships, were about 40 community first responders sealing chlorine leaks and checking for radiological contamination in trucks, railcars, and tankers. They were not responding to an act of terror but to a four-county hazardous material exercise involving up to 160 of New York Capital District’s first responders. This was day three of four-day training session and involved about 40 personnel. To accommodate this training, the arsenal transformed more than 5,000 square feet of floor space into a first-class training site for the community. Given the cold temperatures this time of year in upstate New York, having an indoor facility was certainly a consideration as to why conduct the training on Watervliet. But, the arsenal has been host Top Photo: Beyond the cannon tubes that were being readied for shipment, and on the spot where 16-inch cannons were once manufactured for U.S. Navy battleships, nearly 160 community first responders received hazardous material training. Left Photo: Firefighter working through radiological monitoring. Photos by John B. Snyder to several first responder training events in recent years and the reason is not always to have a safe, dry, warm space from which to train. Arsenal Fire Chief John Whipple said the arsenal began integrating community first responders, such as hazardous material and EMS teams, about eight years ago into the arsenal’s emergency response training plan. Many of the past exercises simulated intentional or unintentional acts of biological, radiological, or chemical spillage. “With more than two million square feet of manufacturing and administrative space to protect, as well the challenge of keeping safe nearly 1,400 people who flow in and out of the arsenal gate every day, we know that we will need support from outside of the arsenal to respond to a major incident,” Whipple said. “These types of exercises allow us to build relationships, as well as to better understand the unique capabilities that each response team may bring to a real-world incident.” Troy Fire Department Assistant Chief James Story continues on page 7, Hazmat
  • 7. Page 7 Salvo Nov. 30, 2013 Hazmat Cont. Hughs, who was one of the senior trainers, said the goal of the exercise was to take 160 community first responders from four counties and have them train to standard in five hazardous material scenarios. “Given today’s realty of fiscal challenges that effect every community, and the sheer size and scope that recent incidents involving chemical or radiological spills and acts of terror have had on communities, no one community can handle the entire response without outside support,” Hughs said. The bottom line, Hughs said, is that no community could afford to purchase all the equipment that would be required to adequately respond to a large scale incident. Nor could any community afford all the training that is required of its first responders without outside support. Whipple validated Hughs’ statement by saying the training that was being conducted at the arsenal could not be replicated without outside support. “When you take a look at the training aids brought in by the New York State Homeland Security office for this exercise, there is no way the arsenal could afford the training aids just to train our force,” Whipple said. And so, these types of collective training exercises, where multiple agencies provide unique equipment, skills, and financial resources, are critical toward building a package of capability in New York’s Capital District that will someday mitigate the effects of nuclear, biological, chemical, and radiological incidents, whether intentional or unintentional. Hazmat teams came from Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady, and Troy counties, while the trainers came from New York State’s Department of Homeland Security and from the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs’ 2nd Civil Support Team, Weapons of Mass Destruction. Top Photo: Troy Fire Department Assistant Chief James Hughs, r, explaining the hazmat training to Record reporter Danielle Sanzone, while arsenal Fire Chief John Whipple waits his turn to be interviewed. Center Photo: Sgt. Evan Putnam, from the NY National Guard’s 2nd Civil Support Team, providing radiological training to arsenal firefighters Donald Haberski, r, and Adam Kraus, center. Bottom Photo: Trainers from New York State’s Department of Homeland Security providing instruction as to how to seal a chemical leak on a tanker. Photos by John B. Snyder
  • 8. Page 8 Salvo Nov. 30, 2013 Given today’s sequester environment, no contract is too small for Army manufacturing By John B. Snyder The Watervliet Arsenal announced this month that it received a contract valued at nearly $1 million to manufacture 155 mm cannon carrier assemblies for the Army’s TACOM Life Cycle Management Command. “This million dollar order will add to our current workload more than 2,200 hours of direct labor,” said Diane Nelson, the arsenal’s program manager for the cannon order. “We will begin shipping in December 2014 and we will complete our production by January 2015.” Jake Peart, the arsenal’s chief of Production Control & Program Management, said that given this era of fiscal uncertainty with the defense budget, even a small order is critical to sustaining the critical machining skills required for today’s weapons systems. “What makes this order even better for us is that it was not part of our planned production schedule for this fiscal year,” Peart explained. Just a few years ago, when arsenal manufacturing was supporting two wars, this small order may not have been news, Peart said. But as the effects of sequestration trickle down throughout the Department of Defense, the arsenal’s future workload has taken its fair share of the pain. Since sequestration took effect in March of this year, the arsenal has suffered through a hiring freeze, furloughed workforce, very limited overtime to meet production, and a drop in future weapons orders. There is no doubt among the arsenal workforce that they would be very pleased if orders for large caliber tubes, such as seen to the left, were flowing in due to the significant amount of direct labor hours associated with those orders. But these are fiscally challenging times and even small orders for small parts, such as seen above, are now more welcomed than ever. Photos by John B. Snyder Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff, said earlier this month at a Senate Armed Services Committee testimony, “If Congress does not act to mitigate the magnitude, method and speed of the reductions under the Budget Control Act with sequestration, the Army will be forced to make significant reductions in force structure and end strength. From FY 14 to FY 17, as we draw down and restructure the Army into a smaller force, the Army will have degraded readiness and extensive modernization program shortfalls.” The arsenal has historically benefited from DOD’s modernization of its weapon systems. But given Odierno’s dire outlook, the arsenal may need to work harder than it ever has to find new work, even if it means fully embracing small orders such as this one. As a sign of just how important new orders are to the arsenal, Nelson said that it usually takes more than a month from a request for a quote to a receipt of an order, but the time line for this order took less than two weeks. The carrier assemblies are for the M109 155 mm selfpropelled howitzer called the Paladin.
  • 9. Page 9 Salvo Nov. 30, 2013 Combined Federal Campaign back on track with extended solicitation period We are almost halfway through the Combined Federal Campaign and the arsenal’s CFC Chairwoman, Paula Weglarz, wants to take a moment to say Thank You for your support. As Thanksgiving approaches, I am grateful for working with such a caring and generous workforce, Weglarz said. And, it’s not too late, because there is still an opportunity to give. Please consider an investment in the CFC to help improve the quality of life for many. Your investment amount is a personal decision, and any Photo by Billy Martin amount is appreciated. Keep in mind The arsenal kicked off its Combined Federal Campaign October 29 during a luncheon that provided canvassers the opportunity to receive the comthat you may spread your donation out mander’s intent, as well as to learn more about the program they will supthroughout the year with the convenient port between now and January 15. option of payroll deduction. If you have not been contacted by a Key Person please email or call - Paula Weglarz,, extension 5256 or Tom Mulheren,, extension 5690 and they will provide you with a Charity Guide or answer any questions. Snapshot: Arsenal product in use this month Apache Troop mortarmen fire the first round of the day for their mortar live fire exercise at Combat Outpost Khilaguy on Nov. 9, 2013. To properly emplace their system, two soldiers must stand on the baseplate to help it set firmly in the ground. A keen eye can see Pfc. Kyle Wilkinson and Pfc. Richard Setzer are suspended mid-air as the 120mm mortar has slammed the baseplate into the ground, but gravity has not caught up yet. Apache Troop, 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, constantly trains their fire support assets to improve their capabilities while deployed to Regional Command - North, Afghanistan. 6-4 CAV has been deployed since May 2013 and is stationed at Fort Knox, Ky. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Cory Titus/Released)
  • 10. Page 10 Salvo Nov. 30, 2013 2 Weeks left for Army employees to switch health plans By David Vergun Photo Credit: David Vergun WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Nov. 25, 2013) -- Army civilians have until Dec. 9 to decide whether or not to continue their Federal Employees Health Benefits plan or switch providers. Every year, the so-called open-season enrollment period is from the second Monday in November to the second Monday in December, according to Peg Schultz, director, Army Benefits Center - Civilian. It would be prudent for Army civilians to check their plans and compare them with other plans, Schultz advised. She said go to That website has all the information needed to compare plans and to make changes with ease using side-by-side comparison charts. She added that the website is reliable and robust. Although there's a toll-free number, 877-276-9287, to call if users experience problems with the site or have additional questions, typically more than 95 percent experience no problems and successfully process their transactions online, she said. In fact, she said 340,000 people use the site for their health-care needs. Another advantage the Army Benefits Center website has, she pointed out, is that it interfaces directly with the Office of Personnel Management's health-care website so users can get everything they need at Army Benefits Center without roaming through the Internet. Army civilians should see how their plans have changed and what their own changing needs might be, she said, especially since premiums fluctuate. The Office of Personnel Management announced that the average premiums for 8.2 million people covered by the Federal Employees Health Benefits program will increase by 3.7 percent in 2014. Last year the average increase was 3.4 percent. Dental and vision care were not included in those figures for this year and 2014. Average dental premiums for federal employees will increase less than 1 percent in 2014 and vision will decrease by 1.3 percent in 2014, according to OPM. Not every Army civilian will want or need to use the open-season enrollment, Schultz acknowledged. For example, a number of Army civilians who are retired military choose to keep their Tricare benefits. Army civilians can make changes to their health-care plans outside of open-enrollment season if they have "qualifying life event" changes such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child and so on, she said. The reason there's such a narrow window on open-enrollment season each year is because some of the dollars that go into helping Army civilians with health care are pre-taxed, so the time frame for enrollment was mandated by the Internal Revenue Service's rules. The Army Benefits Center site also has an OPM link to the Affordable Health Care site that might cover children of Army civilians who are now too old to be on their plans and who don't have a health insurance or want to shop around. Besides health care, Schultz pointed out that the Army Benefits Center and its website handles the Thrift Savings Plan and has information on flexible spending, retirement, Social Security and many other benefits.
  • 11. Page 11 Salvo Nov. 30, 2013 CPAC - Civilian Personnel Advisory Center CPAC Corner: Applicant Tips for Applying for Vacancies via USAJOBS A USAJOBS account is needed to apply for all Army positions. If you do not have a current USAJOBS account, you will need to set one up by accessing their website at:; click on “First time Visitors”; and then “Create an Account” and follow the instructions. To apply for a job, there are four basic steps (in addition to creating an account): 1. Search jobs - Use basic search to enter in job and location keyword information from the USAJOBS home page. To locate jobs available at WVA, type in “Watervliet” in the “What” section and click “Search.” If you are currently a Career or Career-Conditional employee, on the next page, select the option on the left side of the screen indicating that you are searching for Jobs for: “Federal Employees.” This will trigger USAJOBS to show internal announcements as well as external. Review the job announcements and carefully review the "Qualification and Evaluation" section to determine whether you will qualify for the position. 2. Apply for Jobs - Carefully follow the instructions in the "How to Apply" section for each announcement. Submit any additional documentation to verify your qualifications such as transcripts, SF-50 Notification of Personnel Action, and/or Veterans’ Form DD-214. Please note that your SF-50 should be your latest non-award SF-50. 3. Assessment Questionnaire – Vacancy announcements require applicants to complete an assessment questionnaire. This is a very important part of the application process. Be sure to take your time and answer each question accurately. If a written response is required, be sure to include this along with your selected answer. Review your answers before you submit your application package to ensure that you have responded to each and every question. 4. Manage Your Career - Log into your account to obtain application status for positions for which you have applied. Application status can be viewed by selecting “Application Status” from the My Accounts tab from the USAJOBS home page. Creating a Resume: To create a resume, you have the option of: 1. Uploading a resume - Uploaded resumes must be less than 3 MB and can be in one of the following formats: GIF, JPG, JPEG, PNG, RTF, PDF, or Word (DOC or DOCX); or 2. Using the Resume Builder – you can create a resume in USAJOBS by using the USAJOBS Resume Builder. The best resource to learn how to create a resume this way is by viewing the USAJOBS Resume Builder tutorial. This can be found by clicking on the following link: and then clicking on “Resumes.” To Upload and Submit Documents: USAJOBS provides the ability to save up to ten additional documents along with your resume. Such documents may include a DD-214, SF-15, SF-50, OF-306, transcripts or other types of documents requested in vacancy announcements. To upload a document: 1. Log-in at "My Account." 2. Click on "Saved Documents." 3. Click browse and select a file stored on your computer to include in your Saved Documents. Files must be less than 3 MB and can either be .gif, .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .rtf, .doc, .docx or .pdf format. Enter a name for your document. 4. Click "Upload." Once a document has been successfully uploaded, it can be viewed or deleted at any time. Plan Ahead: 1. Prepare your application package in advance. 2. Take your time to develop a strong resume clearly describing your duties and level of experience. 3. Pre-position your resume(s) and Upload supporting documents (i.e., latest non-award SF-50, DD214, transcripts, etc.). 4. Create/Save job searches. 5. Review announcement requirements. 6. Verify all requirements have been met for announcement (additional documents, questionnaire completion, etc.). 7. Keep your account updated. For more information on this, please contact the CPAC office on extension 4058 or 4053 or visit the USAJOBS Resource Center at:
  • 12. Page 12 Salvo Nov. 30, 2013