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Machine guns delivered overseas despite obstacles

June 14, 2011

By Michelle Harlan

Flight cancellation and location changes didn’t prevent the shipment of M60 machine guns to the United Kingdom as part of a foreign military sales case supported by the Army Security Assistance Command. USASAC’s motto of “Strength in Cooperation” not only applies to its support to security enterprise partners and foreign countries but to the efforts of the employees who monitor FMS case requisitions and ensure their success.

Kim Bricker was the senior central case manager for the delivery of the machine guns sale. Bricker, who works at USASAC’s New Cumberland, Pa., office, had to keep track of the items as they made their way from the contractor to the buyer in the U.K. This particular case ran into several snags as the items made their way to their final destination. In one week, the shipping location changed four times as flights were canceled and temporary safe-haven storage was located. Since the shipment involved weapons, the items were required to be escorted and stored securely at all times.

The guns left the contractor in Nevada and were shipped to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland for the original scheduled flight to the U.K. When that flight was canceled, the plan had to be changed. Andrews AFB did not have a secure facility to store the artillery until a new flight could be arranged, so the materiel was moved to Indian Head, Md., for a short-term secure storage solution.

“No matter the amount of planning there are always obstacles you must overcome to fulfill the mission,” Adam Coffman, a traffic management specialist from TACOM-Security Assistance Management Directorate who was responsible for arranging the transport of the weapons, said. Dealing with these types of changes are “just another day in the FMS transportation world,” he added.

Coffman was in constant contact with Bricker throughout the process by providing status updates and shipping options to ensure the items were delivered as quickly as possible.

“Adam stepped in to figure out how to get the guns to the U.K. and was able to amend paperwork to change the delivery destination in the U.K.,” Bricker said.

FMS cases are assigned a delivery term code (DTC) that specifies the point at which responsibility for transportation of the items shift from the U.S. government to the foreign government purchaser. This case required the items be delivered to a Department of Defense port of exit onto a customer country controlled ship or aircraft. By changing the DTC that was assigned to the case, that restriction was lifted and the items were able to be placed on a commercial carrier flight out of the U.S. directly to the overseas destination.

The guns were taken out of storage at Indian Head and driven to McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. From there, the guns were on a flight to the Royal Air Force Station at Mildenhall in Suffolk, England.

“Once the decision was made to change the DTC we were able to get (the guns) in the U.K. in under 48 hours,” Coffman said. “It took a lot of coordination to complete this requirement.”

Despite the challenges, Bricker and her Security Assistance Enterprise partners were never in doubt that the delivery would be made to the U.S. coalition partner.

“There were many obstacles that came up, but in the end the mission was completed and our allies were very pleased with the delivery and acceptance of the new materiel,” Coffman said.

“There is a team. We are here to help each other,” Bricker said. “You don’t do anything alone in this business.”

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