Blowing up the competition

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho — The 366th Operations Support Squadron won the Defense Logistics Agency Range of the Year award. Although there isn’t a trophy or plaque presented, the range personnel have earned bragging rights for their use of excess property.

The competition was created by the DLA to heighten ranges’ interest in using excess equipment for target practice. With a goal of simplifying processes and saving taxpayer dollars, the competition allows ranges to creatively accomplish both.

“Generally, the ranges have to buy soft targets that are made of plywood and cardboard,” said Curtis Viall, a 366th OSS range operations officer. “An alternative to these soft targets is to use a vehicle that has been deemed excess or unserviceable.”

The reused vehicles become hard targets, he explained. Unlike the soft targets, they’re sturdier and can withstand multiple hits from weapons systems. Not only are the targets durable, but they offer other benefits as well.

“Finding valuable ways to utilize excess property, vehicles (and) equipment on the range provides our aircrews realistic tactical targets and saves a significant amount of money,” Viall said. “Last year, over a thousand vehicles were reutilized (on) ranges, saving thousands of dollars.”

The categories of the competition look at layout, overall range capabilities, reutilization totals, cleanliness of the facility, overall appearance, and what’s been accomplished using DLA equipment.

“We typically acquire tanks, self-propelled and towed artillery, armored personnel carriers, (shipping) containers, (Humvees) and construction equipment,” Viall said. “Once at the range, the vehicles are prepped to go on range as target(s).”

Preparation can include removing shiny surfaces and glass in order to reduce laser reflection, he explained, as well as removing hazardous waste such as oil and transmission fluid.

“In some cases targets require no modification and can (go) directly onto the range to be used, but quite often we will make modifications to make them look more realistic,” Viall said.

Examples of their creative targets include building villages out of shipping containers, using modified satellite dishes to simulate enemy communication infrastructure, simulated tunnel entrances, modifying trailers to pull by remote control vehicles for laser guided bombs, and many other realistic targets.

The contract maintenance personnel from Environmental Management Incorporated services used a lot of imagination and skill to get these systems looking more like enemy targets, Viall explained.

“We’re proud of our OSS range team and the recognition this award highlights,” said Lt. Col. Sean Lowe, the 366th OSS commander. “Mr. Viall and his team have built a culture of innovation while developing a world-class training environment. The team’s ability to react to dynamic F-15E (Strike Eagle) operational requirements by organically developing full scale tactical targets and threats prepares gunfighters for combat challenges they may face in Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan.”

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