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During operations Just Cause, Urgent Fury, Desert Storm/Desert Shield, and Joint Endeavor, huge amounts of munitions were requisitioned and issued to deploying forces. A large part of these munitions was not expended, and the stockpile that resulted placed an enormous strain on the ammunition support system. To reduce this burden, retrograde operations must be included in the initial planning of every exercise and operation-not when the exercise/operation is drawing to a close. Planning and responsibility for retrograde operations depend on the theater. Based on mission requirements and characteristics of the force to be supported, responsibility can range from an ammunition group to a platoon.

Another critical issue is soldier casualties from improper handling and repackaging of munitions. Leaders often fail to enforce discipline during the unpacking, restoration, and reconstitution of ammunition. Also, leaders do not maintain accountability of the packing materials needed to carry out retrograde operations.

This chapter provides information on what leaders must do to return ammunition to a serviceable condition upon termination of a conflict. Well before the operation ends, leaders must develop plans outlining retrograde procedures. These plans must identify the tasks required to return ammunition to its original packing configuration.


Upon completion of combat operations or SASO, the tedious job of identifying, preparing, repackaging, requisitioning, collecting, loading, and shipping ammunition begins. These tasks constitute the redeployment process and signal the start of the munitions retrograde program within the ammunition supply system.

To ensure effective retrograde operations, leaders must enforce supply discipline during the initial unpacking of ammunition. This includes maintaining salvage and packing materials to be used in retrograde. Tremendous resources are needed to restore and repackage ammunition. Besides indigenous assets, contractor and HNS may be required.

Before a redeployment begins, and while combat operations are raging, logistical planners monitor the levels of munitions in the theater. They then estimate the packing materials needed to retrograde munitions from the using unit, through ammunition storage activities, to a theater depot or port, and to a CONUS depot.

During retrograde operations, munitions units continue to provide munitions to security forces while relocating the excess to a CSA or TSA. To support forward units, CSAs prestock limited amounts of munitions behind selected division security forces. Surplus stocks are consolidated and shipped to CONUS or diverted to support other operations. ASPs should contain only those stocks needed to support security forces, making unnecessary the retrograde of munitions from the ASPs.

Retrograde Planning

Operational planning incorporates a vast array of critical issues and concerns. One of the key issues planners must address during the initial phases is how to recover and retrograde ammunition remaining after the operation or exercise ends.

Redeployment plans differ significantly from the deployment plans made before leaving CONUS. Personnel, time, equipment, and materiel become more important when the main effort is directed at returning personnel and equipment to CONUS as quickly as possible. At a minimum, planners should consider the following:

  • Begin planning before the last battle.

  • Develop a retrograde system that consolidates materiel at various stages; e.g., at unit level to return to an ATP area.

  • Assign condition codes as far forward as possible. Also, make decisions about which ASP should get certain items for further consolidation or reconditioning.

For planning purposes, assume the following about the condition of munitions in a unit's or soldier's possession:

  • Munitions have been removed from original packing.

  • Packing materials have not been retained by the users.

  • Munitions will require a service-ability or classification inspection.

At all levels, plans must incorporate retrograde operations. These plans should include:

  • Retrograde responsibilities of headquarters, MMCs, supporting ammu-nition units, and using units. Responsibilities encompass reporting requirements, pack-aging, storing, consolidating, and security.

  • Obtaining and providing empty storage containers, as well as other materials needed to build and repair pallets and containers.

  • Forming retrograde planning cells.

  • Identifying special requirements for classified, Category I, or critical sensitive items.

  • Contacting USAMC to request specialized teams or personnel to assist in retrograde.

  • Responsibilities for recovery of packing materials.

During the various stages of buildup and actual conflict, arrangements must be made for the recovery and storage of packing materials. These materials can occupy an extraordinary amount of space. They can be backhauled to a central location or stored in a separate area near the CSA, or in any other area having the capability and capacity.

The following factors should be considered before actual retrograde operations begin:

  • Existing facilities.

  • Existing logistical support.

  • Shipping point from theater.

  • Available HN support.

  • Available Logistics Civilian Aug-mentation Program (LOGCAP) support.

Visibility and accountability must begin at the returning unit level. If it has not, then it must begin at the ATP/ASP level. This is particularly true with Category I and serial-numbered items.

Accountability problems increase during war; however, as much as possible, the accountability of packing materials must be maintained. If this is done successfully, shortages will be easier to identify and correct.

Generally, packing materials used by opposing forces should not be used; they can be misidentified and usually are not of the proper size or quality for US items. How-ever, they can be used for retrograde of captured enemy items.

When retrograded munitions reach the designated ASA, they must be accounted for, reconfigured, repackaged, and assigned a condition code. A QASAS or other qualified person must make condition code decisions.

If proper packing materials are not available, munitions must be inspected to determine their serviceability. If the munitions are in serviceable condition but have no lot number, a local lot number may be assigned. These munitions are considered as serviceable.

During retrograde operations, unserv-iceable munitions are typically destroyed. The responsible ammunition company must request disposition instructions through the MMC to the USAMC before destroying the munitions.

Captured enemy ammunition (CEA) must be kept separate from US munitions, accounted for, stored, and guarded using the same criteria that apply to US munitions.

If contractor/HN support is to be used for retrograde operations, it must be negotiated early in the operation. Contractors must know and fully understand the scope of work necessary to complete the mission. HNS should be thoroughly screen-ed by security personnel to ensure clearances are granted and the correct US/HN ratio is negotiated before work begins.

During retrograde operations, leaders must ensure safety policies and procedures are carefully observed. These operations can be particularly hazardous for the following reasons:

  • Careless attitudes may prevail. Absence of battle and relief that the operation is over may cause soldiers to become so relaxed they become careless.

  • Collection of battlefield souvenirs may include dangerous unexploded ordnance (UXO).

  • Taking dangerous shortcuts may result in serious injury. As above, the absence of battle and the excitement soldiers experience at thoughts of going home may contribute to lax behavior, including the careless handling of ammunition and explosives.

Once ammunition has been inspected, repaired, repackaged, and deemed serviceable or unserviceable by surveillance personnel, it must be retrograded out of the theater.


Commanders must follow applicable environmental regulations when destroying munitions. Failure to obey environmental laws and regulations may subject commanders to fines and/or imprisonment. For more information, see Chapter 6, Section I, of this manual; FM 20-400 (projected publication, FY 98); and TC 5-400.

The two categories of ammunition destruction are routine and emergency. Routine destruction occurs during normal day-to-day operations (for example, the destruction of unserviceable ammunition).

Routine Destruction

The destruction of ammunition is based on METT-T. However, a general plan for the destruction of unserviceable ammunition and CEA must be prepared for every storage activity. The destruction site should be carefully selected so that explosive fragments, debris, and toxic vapors do not become a hazard to personnel, materiel, facilities, or operations. For more information on selecting a destruction site, see FMs 5-250 and 9-13 and TM 9-1300-206.

Ammunition personnel must receive permission from their chain of command before destroying unserviceable ammunition. Ammunition destruction should be supervised by a QASAS. For information on the emergency destruction of storage sites, see FM 9-13, TM 43-0002-33, and the field SOP.

At the segregation area, unexpended ammunition is identified and segregated by type and lot number, checked for nonstandard or hazardous conditions, and repacked or palletized and stored IAW distances outlined in TM 9-1300-206. In established theaters of operation, surveillance activities are controlled by QASASs. QASASs inspect and classify ammunition and its components during movement, storage, and maintenance operations. Also, they inspect equipment, facilities, and operations. A 55B sergeant first class (SFC) or above, or a QASAS, visually inspects all opened ammunition and determines the serviceability of both the ammunition and its containers. Also, inspectors must check for compatibility and ammunition in a hazardous condition.

Added precautions should be taken when handling ammunition containing depleted uranium (DU). (See TB 9-1300-278.)

Emergency Destruction

Emergency destruction of ammunition prevents the ammunition from being captured by enemy forces. Only division commanders and above have the authority to order the emergency destruction of ammuni-tion. This authority may be delegated to subordinate commanders. TM 43-0002-33 is the reference for emergency destruction of ammunition.

If it is necessary to conduct emergency destruction operations, the ammunition must be rendered unserviceable. When possible, emergency destruction should be planned and conducted to impede enemy troop movements without creating hazards to friendly troops.

The first priority for emergency destruction is classified ammunition and its associated documents. The second priority is ammunition that the enemy could immediately use against friendly forces, such as hand grenades or land mines. Also second priority is any ammunition that the enemy could use in their weapons.


To ensure that ammunition is returned to a high state of readiness, maintenance must sometimes be performed after it is inspected. Maintenance operations include minor packaging and preservation operations (PP), such as:

  • Cleaning.

  • Minor rust and corrosion repair.

  • Repair and replacement of boxes and crates.

  • Restenciling of containers.

  • Desiccant replacement.

Maintenance may also include major operations, such as complete renovation. Units should be prepared to perform as much PP as possible to maintain ammunition in a serviceable condition. In most cases, ammunition that becomes unserviceable will require evacuation or retrograde to a depot. However, since the movement of ammunition involves not only safety but also tremendous tonnages, it is not possible to adopt a maintenance policy geared totally to evacuation. Ammunition determined to be unserviceable must be reported on an Ammunition Condition Report (ACR), DA Form 2415, and disposition instructions requested. Ammunition reported on an ACR should be tagged and segregated pending final disposition. Ammunition coded Condition Code H will be stored in a separate location pending disposition. Condition Code H ammunition that poses an immediate threat may be destroyed prior to the receipt of disposition instructions.

All units that have ammunition on hand, including using units, perform organizational maintenance with technical assistance from ammunition units.

Ammunition units will perform PP operations as required to prevent further ammunition deterioration. If added maintenance is required, it will be accomplished as determined by the National Maintenance Point (NMP). All maintenance operations are performed according to a maintenance SOP derived from TM 9-1300-250 under the supervision of a qualified ammunition inspector as approved by the commander. Ammunition maintenance is discussed further in Chapter 6, Section IV of this manual.


When the war is over, the enemy threat changes. Even though the enemy has been officially defeated, there may be pockets of resistance, guerrilla units, or terrorists that want to continue the fight. Leaders must keep this in mind and develop effective physical security plans to prevent the capture or destruction of munitions stocks. Follow guidance in AR 190-11 and FM 19-30 for physical security of ammunition and explosives.

MPs provide security on an area support basis. However, commanders of ammunition units must ensure that their unit has devel-oped an effective security plan based on applicable regulations, command directives, and the tactical situation. At a minimum, the plan must include the following:

  • Unit mission.

  • Current tactical situation.

  • Level of threat expected.

  • Available resources.

  • Unit vulnerability.

The security plan must consider all aspects of physical security. These include:

  • Access control.

  • Guard force operations.

  • Personnel screening.

  • Document and materiel account-ability.

  • Emergency actions.

Particular care must be given to provid-ing security for Category I and II munitions items. AR 190-11 contains the guidance required to secure properly Category I and II munitions.

Category I includes non-nuclear missiles and rockets in a "ready to fire" configuration. Also, it includes explosive complete rounds for these missiles, such as the Stinger, LAW, and AT-4.

Category II includes high explosive and white phosphorous hand and rifle grenades, antitank and antipersonnel mines with an unpacked weight of 50 pounds or less, and demolition explosives.


When transporting or storing ammuni-tion and explosives for retrograde, use the same precautions and procedures used for these munitions during the buildup. Theater/corps trucks retrograde munitions stocks to designated locations. The CMCC/TAMCC regulates all highway movement during the retrograde operation. It identifies evacuation routes, publishes movement schedules, and designs a battlefield circulation plan. The theater/corps transportation system will be severely taxed by the movement of units, supplies, and equipment, and the CMCC/TAMCC may need to request added transportation from HN or theater transportation assets.

The ASCC, theater movement control agency (TMCA), and transportation command (TRANSCOM) coordinate with HQDA agencies and the NICP for instructions on relocating ammunition to CONUS or other theaters for subsequent operations.

Containers and
Packing Materials

ASAs normally are the primary consolidation hubs for turned in or backup ammunition storage containers and packing materials. Also, materials for building or repairing pallets and storage containers are consolidated at this location.

Retrograde Turn In

Using units normally return munitions identified for retrograde to the ASA that provides their ammunition support. However, because of the changing requirements of the modern battlefield, units may be directed to turn in the identified ammunition and explosives to the nearest ASA. ASAs collect, consolidate, and ship this ammunition as directed.

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