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October 14, 2012

DAC has new command; staying in McAlester

McALESTER — The U.S. Army Defense Ammunition Center in McAlester has been transferred from its alignment with the Army Materiel Command.

It’s now aligned with the Combined Arms Support Command, which is known as CASCOM.

CASCOM is considered a subordinate of the Training and Doctrine Command. CASCOM — and now DAC, in McAlester — is under the command of Major Gen. Larry D. Wyche, the commanding general at Fort Lee, Va.

That’s according to Keith V. Desbois, of the CASCOM Public Affairs office.

“We’re located here in Fort Lee,” Desbois said Friday.

Referring to the DAC facility in McAlester, he said “We’re now their higher headquarters.”

DAC will remain at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant and no personnel will move because of the realignment,  Desbois said.

“It’s mainly a command change,” Desbois said. “All the infrastructure and personnel will remain.”

In McAlester on Friday, DAC Director Dr. Upton Shimp also spoke of the change in command.

Shimp has been at the DAC facility at McAAP since DAC moved to McAlester from Savanna, Ill. in 1998 as the result of an action by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission.

He became the DAC director last March.

“We will continue our critical Army mission here in McAlester,” Shimp said. He said DAC employees will maintain their ties to the community and their contributions to Southeastern Oklahoma.

A statement from Desbois and the CASCOM Public Affairs office outlined the reasons for the change.

The statement referred to DAC as the Department of Defense’s focal point for ammunition expertise. Established in 1920, DAC today trains more than 110,000 students annually from all branches of the service.

DAC’s facility in McAlester has approximately 143 full-time employees with an operating budget of more than $29 million, according to Desbois.

In addition to operating the U.S. Army Technical Center for Explosives, DAC conducts training at 16 regional sites.

The statement from Desbois also related CASCOM’s mission.

“CASCOM develops, trains and educates service members and civilians, supports unit training and designs, builds and synchronizes a versatile mix of capabilities, formations and equipment,” the  statement said.

Willam F. Moore, the Combined Arms Support Command deputy to the commanding general, relayed how the realignment will work.

“The DAC realignment will create great synergy and enhance training for our warfighting logisticians. The DAC provides a wide variety of vital and essential ammunition expertise to the Army and our joint service partners,” Moore said in the CASCOM statement.

Its mission of providing ammunition training, explosives safety, transportation engineering and operational inspections “will support and enhance our support to the Army's Sustainment Warfighting Function.”

TRADOC, which is over CASCOM, currently trains about 511,000 service members across the Department of Defense, according to the statement. This training transfer constitutes a 20 percent increase in TRADOC's support to the Army and joint force, the statement continued.

Operational control for most of the DAC will transfer to the commandant of CASCOM’s Ordnance School. About 73 personnel will not transfer; those employees involved with career program management, ammunition peculiar equipment and ammunition demilitarization will remain part of the Joint Munitions Command, and report to its headquarters at Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., the statement related.

CASCOM also included a statement from Col. Edward M. Daly, U.S. Army Chief of Ordnance and ODS commandant.

“We are so excited about the DAC joining the CASCOM team,” Daly said.

“Bringing this organization under the control of a training institution further develops our capability and creates a unity of effort for the program. It will provide increased opportunities for ammunition cross-training that did not previously exist.”

The Ordnance School’s training areas include munitions, explosive ordnance disposal and mechanical and electronics maintenance, the CASCOM statement related. Approximately 24,000 students in 33 enlisted career fields, nine warrant officer specialties and two officer areas of concentration are instructed at the school annually.

“The DAC transition will institutionalize explosives safety for the Army to ensure all soldiers and installations are provided world-class sustainment support,” Shimp said in the CASCOM statement.

“Joining the Chief of  Ordnance creates a dynamic enterprise that will significantly benefit the Army of the future.”

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