News | June 11, 2021

COREX trains disposition pros near and far

By Jake Joy DLA Disposition Services Public Affairs

Summer is here, and for Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services expeditionary civilians and military reservists, it’s prime training season.

Contingency Operations Readiness Exercise 2021 kicked off June 7 at the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base in Michigan. As usual, the annual readiness check for potential deployers includes the evolution of a plain old grassy field and some paved lots into a full-service portable property site with proximity to command headquarters and its permanent training cadre. 

Recent exercises included additional pop-up disposal facilities at nearby Fort Custer, a team operating two hours north at Michigan’s Camp Grayling, and even a full Expeditionary Site Set deployment to Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo to support real-life joint international exercises in Europe. This year’s wrinkle: a field disposal site in the U.S. territory of Guam, some 7,500 miles off, along with the coordination and logistics challenges that faraway trip planning entails. 

Three men look at a model practice site do determine where things should be placed.
Pre-COREX site layout and detail decisions are discussed during a table-top session among Navy Chief Logistics Specialist Kris Smoker, Training and Operations Simulation Center Program Manager Don Zimmerman, and Safety and Occupational Health Specialist Rex Lewis.
Three men look at a model practice site do determine where things should be placed.
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Pre-COREX site layout and detail decisions are discussed during a table-top session among Navy Chief Logistics Specialist Kris Smoker, Training and Operations Simulation Center Program Manager Don Zimmerman, and Safety and Occupational Health Specialist Rex Lewis.
Photo By: Jason Shamberger
VIRIN: 210610-D-AU600-1235

Property Disposal Specialist Brian Davidson has 15 years with the sub-command, now serving as one of three expeditionary skills instructors in Battle Creek. He said a weeklong class precedes the exercise, during which participants are introduced to or refreshed on portable shelter construction, torch, shredders, and material handling equipment they will be expected to operate downrange, and general deployment scenario problem solving.

“We instruct on the construction and use of all these different items, so when we come out here for the exercise, they’re supposed to be able to set everything up on their own,” Davidson said. “However, we throw in different ‘injects’ where they might be missing an item out of the kit, missing power cables, or maybe a vehicle is broken. So, the simulation deals with ‘how do you work around that or work through that,’ to keep moving forward with the mission?”

Davidson said during deployments, disposal personnel are regularly introduced to new protocols, property may need handled differently than in the U.S., and there can be challenges with communications, contracts, fuel and power delivery and high customer turnover. All those special factors, and more, require team understanding and rehearsal. Davidson said this year’s Battle Creek exercise contingent came together quickly. Exercise participants felt the same.

“We’re a very energetic group,” said Army Staff Sgt. Brian Mitchell, who’s served with Disposal Support Unit 1 out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington for the past five years. “We joke, we have fun, the camaraderie here is really good. I noticed, since the first day, we all just sort of automatically enjoyed being around each other. Other exercises, we had to develop that. With this group, we immediately started enjoying our time together.”

Mitchell has deployed to Kuwait twice with the agency and participated in summer testing twice previously, including the mini deployment to Camp Bondsteel. For this exercise, he’s working as ammunition keyholder, plasma and Petrogen cutter, and MHE operator. Like others in his cohort, he said there are still aspects of the job he’s eager to learn about.

“The hands-on tasks, I’ve got. I know how to use all the equipment,” Mitchell said. “I still have more to learn about accepting property, about what we can and can’t accept and how everything is coded, and where everything is supposed to be stored properly.” 

A man directs another man operating a forklift.
Army Staff Sgt. Brian Mitchell guides a pallet of used office furniture bound for the shredder during the DLA Disposition Services COREX training event at Battle Creek Air National Guard Base in Michigan June 10.
A man directs another man operating a forklift.
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Army Staff Sgt. Brian Mitchell guides a pallet of used office furniture bound for the shredder during the DLA Disposition Services COREX training event at Battle Creek Air National Guard Base in Michigan June 10.
Photo By: Jason Shamberger
VIRIN: 210610-D-AU600-1236

Disposal Services Representative Jessica Payton, from the Camp Lejeune property disposal site in North Carolina, has spent more than a dozen years with the command, including a deployment to Iraq. But she said she only recently moved into an expeditionary civilian job, or billet, and this year is her first related exercise. She said her team began receiving property even before it had fully finished preparing the site.

“We started receiving at our site on Day 3,” Payton said. “In a contingency environment, there are times you’re going to have to receive property prior to being able to demilitarize or cut or issue property. You have to be ready, almost as soon as you are boots on ground.” 

Despite the early arrival of property, Payton said the team has handled the scenario well.

“We’re definitely making mission,” Payton said. “We have people set up at all the sections who are really good at what they do. Whether it’s visitor control, the property accounting section … and the MHE operators we have here are really qualified, good and safe. We have both new and experienced cutters. It’s also a really good opportunity to work with our reservists. It’s a big change for a lot of people, mentally, who have never deployed, a good chance for them to start to understand what expeditionary work is like.” 

The team in Battle Creek will begin breaking down their temporary site by June 15 and the group in Guam will operate until June 25.