News: New Jersey Reservists take over operations at amnesty collection point
Story by Spc. Michael Camacho
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — The 716th Quartermaster Company took control of the amnesty collection point, a cargo yard that supports Operation Clean Sweep, from the 910th Quartermaster Company, Feb. 1, at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
The 716th QM Co., 80th Ordnance Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) is the second quartermaster company to operate the amnesty collection point since its opening in October, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Anthony Potenzone, officer in charge of the amnesty collection point at JBB.
The 716th QM Co., an Army Reserve unit out of Jersey City, N.J., arrived in country in December. The 716th QM Co. Soldiers began to work hand in hand with the 910th QM Co. Soldiers to learn the operations for the logistical support they would provide when they replaced the 910th QM Co., said Potenzone.
The 716th manages the collection point with the support of the 80th Ord. Bn., said Capt. James Beck, commander of the 716th QM Co.
The amnesty yard at JBB is one of the larger collection points in Iraq and supports the largest Support Supply Activity in theater, he said. The amnesty yard processes a high volume of retrograde material because JBB serves as a major logistic hub for the surrounding bases, said Beck, a Pittsburgh native.
The amnesty collection point processes retrograde materials from JBB and the smaller bases that surround it, said Potenzone.
Retrograde materials are put back into the supply system either as reusable supplies or recyclable materials, he said.
Unused new equipment is sent to the SSA, reusable items are sent to the Redistribution Property Accountability Team and scrap metals sent to the Defense Retrograde Material Office, said Potenzone.
"Any equipment in theater that is excess or unaccounted for can be turned into this yard no questions asked," said Potenzone. "We process it and send it where it needs to go ... [in] the supply system."
Originally, the collection point was solely for the retrograde materials sent from the smaller bases slated to close, said 1st Lt. Robert McGrath, officer in charge of Operation Clean Sweep with the 80th Ord. Bn.
The yard changed to daily operations due to the overwhelming base-wide response to the collection point's Amnesty Day, Sept. 12, said McGrath, a Castle Rock, Wash., native.
This retrograde method allows supplies already in Iraq to be redistributed and reduces additional expenses, said McGrath.
Only the prices of unused supplies sent to the SSA are documented; the dollar amount of retrograde materials sent to DRMO and RPAT is not recorded, McGrath said. Within the roughly four months the collection point has been open, it has saved millions of dollars in unused supplies alone, he said.
"We've put $225 million worth of supplies back into the Army system," said McGrath. "We average nearly $10 million a week."
Soldiers at the collection point go through the cargo by hand and visually check the items, said Spc. Lauren Goss, a forklift operator with the 716th QM Co. The cargo is packed and loaded onto a flatbed or trailer and sent to be processed into the supply system, she said.
"We separate it so it can be filtered back into the Army supply," said Goss, a Pittsburgh native.
With Soldiers from various military occupational backgrounds, the unit has adapted well to its mission at the amnesty yard, Beck said.
"Some of these Soldiers have never done this kind of work, but because of their versatility, and for some of them their civilian careers, they create a synergetic effect," said Beck. "They can see materials that are coming in and say 'this is good' or 'this is no good' and get supplies back into the system."
The amnesty collection point at JBB saves millions of dollars for taxpayers and provides logistical support for the Soldiers deployed in Iraq, Beck said.