By Audra Calloway
Public Affairs Office
PICATINNY ARSENAL, NJ -- The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) called for the creation of an integrated weapons and armaments specialty site for guns and ammunition at Picatinny.
As a result, the Navy relocated more than 250 positions assigned to Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Division (NSWC IHD) to Picatinny Arsenal. Six new naval facilities were built to support the NSWC IHD detachment and accommodate the reintroduced naval presence at Picatinny
The military is already seeing the benefits of this realignment. One positive aspect has been the combined Army-Navy efforts to support training requirements.
Mike Bottass, NSWC IHD's Head of Minor and Medium Caliber Gun In Service Engineering Agent (ISEA) Branch, said the 2005 BRAC aligned similar Army-Navy missions and specialties on the same installation.
NSWC IHD's Picatinny Detachment includes three primary functions: ammunition acquisition and in-service engineering; gun systems acquisition and in-service engineering; and weapons and armaments packaging, handling, storage, and transportation research, development, acquisition and test and evaluation.
Once the naval functions began transitioning to Picatinny, the NSWC IHD Detachment was contacted by Matt Stracco, an Armament University education and training technician.
"We reached out to the Navy to let them know what we offered in training efforts that would be beneficial to them," said Stracco. "They wouldn't have to go to the hassle of identifying vendors and bringing trainers here. Should they need specific training, we were able to reach out to the vendors that we already work with and bring that training onboard in support of their mission."
Stracco's offer interested Bottass, who registered for each of the armorer classes offered by AU to evaluate them for applicability and value to the Navy mission. "They were a windfall of knowledge that has helped the Navy tremendously," said Bottass.
Bottass now encourages new Navy engineers and technicians to take advantage of the training opportunities offered by AU.
"These classes help us," Bottass said. "When we transferred functions from other warfare centers to Picatinny, most of the folks did not move with their position. As a result, we hired new engineers and technicians, in most cases with little or no in-service engineering experience. The result was a relatively green ISEA team supporting our naval guns.
"So, having the opportunity to get new engineers into armorer training gave us a significant leg up on the learning curve for those people that only knew the principles of engineering. The training provides practical exposure and gunnery vernacular. It also fostered relationships between the Army and Navy through the cooperative learning structure of the classrooms."
Participating in the dual trainings also saves the Navy money.
"For us, the opportunity afforded us is very much in line with the intent of the BRAC efforts to bring the Navy here in the first place
- to improve synergy between the Navy's gunnery experts and the Army's," Bottass said.
Bottass and Stracco are now developing a new curriculum that includes chain guns and cannons, which open to both service's engineers that will be taught by Navy trainers. The classes will be open to both Army and Navy personnel.
The Navy plans to offer chain gun familiarization training and instruction on the M242 25mm, MK44 30mm and 7.62mm EX34. It will also offer an introduction class on the M230 30mm.
AU will have a class on FN Manufacturing from Sept. 17-27, and plans to have additional training on the M249 SAW (squad automatic machine gun 5.56mm) and 7.62mm M240.