Red River’s safety specialist supports MRAP DEMIL in Afghanistan

By Brianne M. Bender DLA Distribution Public Affairs

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Kent Martz, a safety specialist at Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Red River, Texas, has spent the last six months in Afghanistan supporting the MRAP Demilitarization mission. Arriving in March 2015, he is expected to return home to Red River at the end of September 2015.

An MRAP is a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle designed specifically to withstand improvised explosive device attacks and ambushes. From 2007 until 2012, the Pentagon's MRAP program deployed more than 12,000 MRAPs in the Iraq War and War in Afghanistan.

Martz has worked for DLA Distribution Red River for the past year and a half. Before that time, he worked in the environmental division of Red River Army Depot for four years.

Arriving in Afghanistan in March of 2015, Martz was required to conduct an annual safety inspection and weekly safety walkthroughs with management. DLA also required him to maintain an up to date safety program that encompasses all aspects required by OSHA 1910 and 1960.

“The mission of any safety specialist does not change and is not pre-determined by whether you are deployed or at your home station,” said Martz.

As part of the MRAP DEMIL mission, Martz spends much of his time out in the yard, observing operations including cutting, shearing, shredding and vehicle loading and unloading.

“I conduct ammo abatement inspections on tactical vehicles and non-tactical up-armored vehicles turned in to Disposition Services for DEMIL,” Martz said.

Martz explained the safety department became involved with the MRAP DEMIL mission a few years ago, as a result of an injury that occurred when a live round went off when a vehicle was being cut. Since that incident, Safety now completes nine separate inspections of the vehicle for ammunition prior to the DEMIL process, to prevent injury from live rounds going off that may be lodged in a vehicle.

“I have inspected over 300 vehicles and identified over 150 live rounds,” said Martz. “The challenge faced in a deployed situation is you can find yourself faced with a situation that would be an easy or quick fix at a regular duty station, but you have to adjust your mind set and utilize risk management to allow the mission to continue.”

The end of September means Martz will be able to return home. The mission, however, will not end with his return to Red River. Just as Lyle Watson before him, Mitch Ware will be following behind to continue the safety mission.