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Munitions Manufacturing Equipment Finds New Life in African Peacekeeping Mission

April 7, 2015
By 1st Lt. Marshall Z Howell (AMC)

CRANE, Ind. -- Outmoded sewing machines once used in the manufacture of fabric components of military-grade ammunition at Crane Army Ammunition Activity will soon be springing back to life in the hands of workers supported by the Army's peace-keeping operations in Africa.

A DLA Disposition Services team at the southern Indiana ammunition manufacturing and storage facility, working in partnership with contractors at Camp Atterbury, Ind., is shipping 49 sewing machines, along with uniforms, boots, duffel bags and other excess field equipment, to African militaries partnering with U.S. Africa Command in programs promoting security in the region. The agency disposes of excess property received from the military services and manages foreign military sales programs.

The sewing machines were previously used to manufacture fabric items such as demolition haversacks, propellant charge bags, submarine equipment covers, igniter bags and parachutes for illumination rounds but can also be used for general uniform and equipment repair.

The first shipment, sent to Ouagadougou, Burkino Faso, in early March 2015, was estimated at $116,000. A second shipment is scheduled to go to port the first week of April.

According to AFRICOM's website, countering terrorism and strengthening border security are of growing importance in Burkina Faso, a partner in the Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance program for peacekeeping and a member of the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership, due to the rise of Islamist militant groups like Boko Haram in the region.

'Our Crane team is doing whatever we can to support our partners there who are engaging in peace-keeping operations around the continent of Africa,' Cedrick Hancock, a DLA disposal service representative, said.

A third shipment to Freetown, Sierra Leone, has been placed on hold due to additional clearance requirements the country is placing on inbound cargo. The West African nation also greatly contributes to United Nations peacekeeping operations in the region but relies on significant foreign assistance from bilateral donors like the United States.

Established October 1977, Crane Army Ammunition Activity maintains ordnance professionals and infrastructure in order to receive, store, ship, produce, renovate and demilitarize conventional ammunition, missiles and related components. Crane Army maintains up to one third of the DoD's conventional ammunition inventory. The Activity also provides command oversight of Iowa Army Ammunition Plant, Letterkenny Munitions Center, Pennsylvania, and Milan Army Ammunition Plant, Tennessee.

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