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NEWS | June 5, 2024

Operation Patriot Press: Soldiers participate in first engineering component at Pine Bluff Arsenal

By Rachel Selby Pine Bluff Arsenal

U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers with the 415th Engineer Facility Detachment from Knoxville, Tenn., visited Pine Bluff Arsenal for two weeks in April in support of the U.S. Army Materiel Command’s Operation Patriot Press. The unit was on ground at the Arsenal looking at various Directorate of Public Works projects around the installation.

This is the first engineering unit to be a part of OPP, according to Maj. Thomas B. Hunt, OPP Operations Officer for AMC.

OPP originally began as Operation Patriot Bandoleer or OPB, which was an AMC-managed program in 2015, primarily conducting vessel support operations moving assets to Joint Munitions Command facilities across the nation.

“Operation Patriot Press provides training opportunities for both U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard units. In the past, we have also had active-duty Marine units participate,” said Hunt. “These units get to do training in a real-life setting with real-life issues. You can’t do your job well unless you have done it multiple times, and this is what these opportunities afford our Soldiers.”

Hunt said there are standardized mission sets this year where the engineers just don’t fit.

“The majority of the missions focus on moving ordnance from one location to another, a warehouse mission where items are moved around and there is also a TACOM mission where mechanics go out and do work orders in various shops,” he said. “This year, we added projects for our engineers. This is part of a bigger plan to add engineer units next year. The units this year are creating job packets for projects that will be completed next year by different units.”

OPP specifically looks at unfunded projects within AMC, according to Capt. Chris Tartaglia with the 415th EFD. “Our mission set is a bit unique compared to the rest of the task force (which is mainly focused on ammunition movement). We are doing construction estimates for engineering projects,” he said. “We are the guinea pigs this year.”

A list of prioritized projects has been given to the units by the Arsenal’s Directorate of Public Works, according to Capt Nicholas Lenta with the 415th EFD.

Specific areas being looked at are:

• Shoulder widening at the intersections of Wise and Sibert Roads.

• Manhole repairs.

• Road grading.

• Improvements around Yellow Lake, including pipe replacements and rip rap armoring.

• Culvert headwall construction.

• Ammunition shed repair.

Lenta said it is a lot of heavy civil engineering work on the civilian side. “Our unit is focused on engineering planning and looking at scopes of work for the projects,” he said. “A follow-on Army construction unit will come execute the work at some point. This is a general idea and helps mobilization and planning for the follow-on work. We can help the DPW, but we also get the very good training. These events are important to us. Pine Bluff has been the best DPW in my experience we have worked with.”

Hunt said most people never truly understand how much work it takes for a unit to prepare for a two-week annual training.

“There is even more work with something like this because you can’t just call someone and ask them how they did it last year,” he said. “Our National Guard and Reserve units want to do this type of work. They don’t want to do the same training missions every year. They can practice skills in a safe environment. “It is an amazing opportunity and a total win-win for us and the installations/depots.”

Arsenal Commander Col. Collin K. Keenan said the Arsenal is fortunate to have the support provided by Operation Patriot Press and AMC. “Our DPW is awesome, and works very hard to improve PBA’s infrastructure, but it is hard to get it all done sometimes,” he said. “These Soldiers learn so much from these training experiences, and we reap benefits from their expertise. It just works out great for everyone involved.”