EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Turning one person's trash into another person's treasure happens all the time and Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal (NAVSCOLEOD) is as far as one needs to look to see the cost conscious culture (C3) mentality in full swing on a daily basis.
When it comes to reutilizing recyclable materials to enhance practical scenario training areas, NAVSCOLEOD has led from the front after another successful year turning the reusable material into world-class training areas for hands-on training in one of the armed services' most dangerous career fields.
The 366th Training Squadron Field Training Detachment 3, part of the 782nd Training Group at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, has played a huge role in the joint school's effort to use the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service (DRMS), along with other local sources, in a variety of projects aimed at enhancing the realism of explosive ordnance disposal training, embracing the C3 philosophy to help save taxpayer dollars.
"Our goal, which is in line with our (NAVSCOLEOD) commander's intent, is to increase the realism, rigor and relevance of our overall training program," said Lt. Col. Jerry Sanchez, 366th TRS Detachment 3 commander. "What we do is too important to not look at every avenue available to us to ensure our training is the best in the world."
After a cost avoidance of $1.54 million in fiscal year (FY) 2010 and $1.34 million in FY 2011 through the use of DRMS, NAVSCOLEOD has pushed hard again this year in trying again to earn a spot on the DRMS "Million Dollar Board" in FY 2012.
According to Senior Chief Petty Officer Al Albright, NCOIC of the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) division, using DRMS as opposed to waiting for funding not only saves money, but allows the school to implement changes to the training scenario curriculum on a schedule.
"We gather resources all year long from DRMS and then look to see where we need to upgrade each of training areas across all the divisions," Albright said. "We get all of our resources in order and then we try to build while the students are out on exodus for the holidays."
One of the major projects completed with the help of DRMS was the construction of a robot training facility for the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) division, using $500,000 in recycled resources and in-house labor for the build.
With the new facility, which includes roped off lanes for individual robots, low-light tunnels for limited visibility operations and both above and below-ground culverts, the training environment mirrors the conditions downrange.
"This allows us to train on exactly what we will see in Afghanistan or anywhere else," said Tech. Sgt. Benjamin McGraw, NAVSCOLEOD instructor. "Having the individualized stations set up also allows us to isolate weak skill set areas for students and spend more time focusing on those areas for improvement."
A key acquisition for the Nuclear Ordnance Division (NOD) was a $16,000 jet engine, which enabled training scenarios across several divisions.
The NOD was able to utilize the engine shell as a Minuteman III shroud trainer. With actual shroud trainers costing upwards of $195,000 and often on a two to three-year order backlog, the trainer speeded up NOD's ability to train on missile-related scenarios, which did not exist previously.
The engine components stripped from the shell are being utilized by the IED division as part of wreckage training problems.
NOD's procurement of $250,000 in vehicles for a large-scale accident training area still being developed will also add to realism to their curriculum.
The WMD division's top priority was the development of "CONUS town", where students focus on searching for nuclear material. After acquiring $237,000 in DRMS assets, the NAVSCOLEOD staff was able to create an entire urban setting, complete with a restaurant, bank, post office, town houses and even a gas station.
"We needed something to visually stimulate the students during training," Albright said. "The training is so relevant in urban areas that this build had to happen to keep up with current trends."
Other WMD division projects included a tunnel system, with four foot in diameter culverts and sheds covered with camouflage netting to help create authenticity. A new "militia" camp to simulate "homegrown" terrorist scenarios was created with $55,000 in training aides secured through DRMS. In the inert training area, a $90,000 bus was acquired to create a search lane, along with $120,000 in vehicles for a joint parking lot simulation exercise with the IED division.
The training area upgrades go beyond the EOD basic course. Advanced IED Defeat (AIEDD), a course designed for students coming back to NAVSCOLEOD for upgrade training, logged a $190,000 cost avoidance using recycled materials to construct 15 training devices.
Using solenoids, metal frames, pumps and pressure tanks, the AIEDD made the course more challenging with the creation of the more sophisticated training devices.
Saving money through sound C3 principles is something everyone can do.
"We can all look around and see how we can do things more economically," Sanchez said. "There isn't one way of saving money that is necessarily better than another way; it comes down to having an eye towards being resourceful in everything you do."
NAVSCOLEOD, located on the ranges of Eglin Air Force Base, provides high-risk, specialized, basic and advanced EOD training to over 2,200 U.S. and partner nation military and selected U.S. government personnel each year.