Frigaard, Bjugen, Hammerkammen: with names like those, could they be anything but Nordic caves?
A pair of agency property disposal pros from the DLA Disposition Services hub site in Kaiserslautern, Germany, recently found themselves touring special access, climate-controlled equipment storage facilities in the mountainous Scandinavian nation during a weeklong property disposal and training support visit there.
Before September, disposal personnel had most recently visited Norway in 2009, just about the same time Disposal Services Representative Courtney Aubrey and Property Disposal Specialist Zeke Graham were joining the agency. In 2019, the two grabbed a rental car and hit the road in a country brand new to them both to train Nordic logistics workers at multiple storage sites. The turn-in training covered concepts like how to identify National Stock Numbers, how to stage items and perform Receipt In Place, correctly filling out paperwork and clearing hand receipts.
“They were ready to learn. Very supportive, very get up and go and ready to assist,” Aubrey said. “They now have a basic feel for how to clear out the items they need to clear, and they have a baseline for how to ship and turn in items to us.”
In 1981, the Marine Corps began storing ammunition, weapons, vehicles and miscellaneous equipment in caves near Trondheim as part of an agreement now known as Marine Corps Prepositioning Program-Norway. The goal was to stockpile items that could be quickly accessed for the defense of Norway and NATO allies. Norway provides the spaces and pays for facility upkeep. The U.S. defends from the threat of invasion. The facilities are staffed by American and Norwegian personnel and managed by USMC Blount Island Command, which handles Marine global equipment prepositioning.
The U.S. military has more than 700,000 square feet of storage space including airfields and caves in Norway. Much of what was originally in the caves was sent forward and used during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, according to Washington Post reports. After stocks were replenished through the mid-2000s, an equipment modernization push has been underway for at least the past five years. Making space for the new requires concerted effort to discard the old and mission obsolete – the primary expertise of DLA Disposition Services.
Aubrey said that in addition to conducting training, he and Graham assisted in equipment turn in and shipment preparation for 107 excess line items worth $3.6 million during their visit. Aubrey said items that immediately caught the attention of DLA reuse customers included maintenance tent structures, 30-, 40- and 60-watt generators, “shark cages” and unused firefighting equipment that would be given to humanitarian assistance organizations.
Aubrey said transportation costs in Norway can be “astronomical,” but he estimates there’s another 150-200 shipping containers of potentially usable property that needs removed, along with any additional property the Norwegians identify as they continue drawing down aging equipment.
“It was a great experience,” Graham said. “They had tons of excess property. The 30 containers we helped with are just the tip of the iceberg.”