Quiet professionals keep
Story on page 3
Vol. 13, No. 11
U.S. Army Watervliet Arsenal Nov. 30, 2013
Photo by John B. Snyder
Nov. 30, 2013
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
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
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.
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:
firstname.lastname@example.org. The editor reserves the right to edit all information submitted
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
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
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
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.
“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
John B. Snyder
Nov. 30, 2013
Who knew the
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
Robert “Bob” Spetla is one of the arsenal’s most
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
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
Nov. 30, 2013
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
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
Photos by John B. Snyder
Nov. 30, 2013
teams to mitigate
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
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
Left Photo: Firefighter working through
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
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
Nov. 30, 2013
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
“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
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
Photos by John B. Snyder
Nov. 30, 2013
Given today’s sequester
contract is too small for
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
“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
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.
Nov. 30, 2013
Combined Federal Campaign
back on track with extended
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,
email@example.com, extension 5256 or Tom Mulheren, firstname.lastname@example.org,
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)
Nov. 30, 2013
2 Weeks left
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 https://www.abc.army.mil/.
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.
Nov. 30, 2013
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: www.usajobs.gov; click on “First time Visitors”; and then “Create an Account” and follow the
To apply for a job, there are four basic steps (in addition to creating an account):
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.
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.
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.
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:
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
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: https://help.usajobs.gov/index.php/Tutorials 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:
Log-in at "My Account."
Click on "Saved Documents."
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.
Once a document has been successfully uploaded, it can be viewed or deleted at any time.
Prepare your application package in advance.
Take your time to develop a strong resume clearly describing your duties and level of experience.
Pre-position your resume(s) and Upload supporting documents (i.e., latest non-award SF-50, DD214, transcripts, etc.).
Create/Save job searches.
Review announcement requirements.
Verify all requirements have been met for announcement (additional documents, questionnaire completion, etc.).
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: