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Letterkenny saves millions

money to stay at the depot

August 13, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Letterkenny Army Depot came in early and under budget on two missile maintenance programs, saving the Army more than $2.5 million that will be reinvested at the depot, the depot commander said Thursday.

Col. William Guinn presented an oversized ceremonial check for the money to John R. Chapman, the executive director of the Army's Integrated Materiel Management Center, at the depot headquarters building.

"It's my intention that I will endorse this check ... and give it back to Col. Guinn to reinvest in Letterkenny," Chapman said.

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The Army had given the depot contracts totaling $28 million to "reset" Patriot and Avenger surface-to-air missile systems and a year to do the job, Guinn said. In addition to the monetary savings, Guinn said depot workers completed the work two months early.

Many of the missile systems had been deployed in Iraq where they contended with enemy fire and a hostile environment, Guinn said. Some of the vehicles came back with bullet and shrapnel damage and everything needed a new paint job.

The work involved putting the missiles and supporting equipment back into the same condition they were in before they were sent overseas, Guinn said.

"Every vehicle looked like it had been driven through a sandblaster," Guinn said.

The Avenger missile system is mounted on vehicles such as the Humvee and fires Stinger antiaircraft missiles. Both it and the longer-range Patriot system have been serviced at the depot for a number of years, Guinn said.

"We have, indisputably, the most qualified people in the world on those systems," Guinn said.

The work included three battalions of Patriots and approximately 200 Avengers, Guinn said. A Patriot battalion is comprised of 40 launchers, five radars, five engagement control stations, 10 antenna mast groups, four communications relay groups and an information control center.

Resetting the Avengers was done entirely at Letterkenny, but much of the lower-level maintenance was performed at Fort Bliss, Texas, where depot personnel worked with military personnel. Guinn said the cooperation between the two will aid soldiers in maintaining the equipment in the field.

Chapman said the efficiency of the depot in turning around the systems is important because of the large number of rotations of people and equipment overseas to fight the war on terror.

Next year, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission is expected to act on Department of Defense recommendations to close up to a quarter of the military's 425 bases, depots and other installations. Chapman was asked if the depot's performance on the two missile systems would bolster arguments to keep Letterkenny open.

"BRAC is out of my lane ... but it certainly can't hurt," Chapman said.

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