Munitions Response Support for Physical Security and Stockpile Management
Tetra Tech provided physical security and stockpile management (PSSM) services—including munitions collection, inventory, storage, and disposal—to address vast quantities of captured enemy ammunition (CEA) encountered by Coalition Forces throughout Iraq.
In 2003 the Combined Joint Task Force 7 (CJTF-7) requested urgent PSSM support to help manage massive stockpiles of Iraqi munitions found throughout the country. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) responded through its munitions remediation programs, rapidly contracting Tetra Tech, among others, for cradle-to-grave munitions response services for the CEA mission, including the eventual transfer of responsibility to Iraqi authorities.
To safeguard against munitions falling into enemy hands, nearly 700 caches required removal or destruction, and 100 of these sites were classified as large, containing 100 or more storage and warehouse facilities. Although many of the munitions were serviceable, others dated back to 1944, and the variety of arms sourced from at least 19 nations posed additional identification and handling challenges. Iraq’s extreme summer temperatures amplified the explosive hazards of deteriorated munitions. Security was another concern, and an armed private security contractor protected our personnel from insurgent attacks, small arms fire, and improvised explosive device (IED). Tetra Tech’s munitions response in Iraq was among the most difficult and dangerous of any in our company history, between the hazardous nature of the work, extreme environmental conditions, remote sites, and austere living conditions.
Tetra Tech mobilized an advance team and within 60 days established a forward office alongside CJTF-7 at Camp Victory, near Baghdad International Airport; mobilized 90 unexploded ordnance (UXO), ammunition handling, and security specialists; and procured Iraqi security services and support labor. Tetra Tech was tasked with operations in southern Iraq, including management of ammunition supply points (ASPs) and collection points (CPs) at An Najaf, Al Ashraf, and Az Zubayr Depots; transportation of munitions from caches to ASPs and CPs; demolition of munitions; and miscellaneous UXO responses, including surface clearances and disarming of IEDs.
Tetra Tech’s production rates (tons of munitions destroyed per day) were recognized by USACE as among the highest of all CEA and Coalition Munitions Clearance (CMC) contractors. During the four-year project, we safely destroyed more than 63,600 short tons of CEA, UXO, and other materials, logging more than 200,000 man-hours without any lost work days. We also trained more than 400 Iraqis in the safe handling of munitions.
Up to 10 Tetra Tech teams of UXO-qualified technicians traveled and lived with the military to support inventory and removal clearance of collected CEA at 83 remote and austere sites. We provided armed security specialists to protect our personnel and facilities, provide convoy security, and prevent intrusion into our camps and ASPs.
Tetra Tech established life-support areas and concurrent technical operations at the three depots after carrying out site inspections and minor construction to address structural degradation, potential chemical wastes, CEA hazards, and munitions staging and storage capacity limitations. We also established exclusion zones in areas with dangerous conditions; conducted surface sweeps and clearance of explosive hazards from work areas; and removed or repaired structurally unsound walls, bunkers, and other features to permit safe munitions storage in advance of disposal.
We directed demolition operations for munitions identified for destruction by CJTF-7, procuring the necessary donor explosives and providing UXO personnel to safely and effectively execute the demolition shots necessary for disposal.
We managed all client-directed issues of weapons and munitions during transfer to the new Iraqi Army and National Guard and inventoried, palletized, and shipped all Do Not Destroy munitions to designated Iraqi Army depots. We then closed all three of our assigned depots.
A number of munitions clearance programs have continued this important work in Iraq over the years. In 2011 the U.S. Department of State (DOS) began supporting clearance of explosive remnants of war (ERW) in Iraq under its Conventional Weapons Destruction (CWD) Program. Since November 2018, Tetra Tech has been providing CWD support and related munitions response services for DOS to clear ERW in Iraq in cooperation with humanitarian demining organizations and international donors.