Airman leads joint team in managing the enemy’s cache
By Senior Master Sgt. Trish Freeland, AFCENT, Baghdad Media Outreach Team
/ Published January 08, 2009
TAJI, Iraq -- Among the many missions executed at the Taji National Depot, one of the most interesting jobs is enemy weapons collection. Air Force Capt. Ted Yang is the liaison officer for Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq's J4 Collective Weapons section. For him, each day literally brings something new.
"We collect anywhere from 100 to 1,000 weapons a week," said Yang. "I saw almost 3,000 weapons come through in just my first week on the job."
Yang, a Fresno, Calif. Native, and his joint team of Airmen, Soldiers and civilians are responsible for collecting weapons captured from insurgents so they can't be used against Iraqi and Coalition Forces. Taji is the main collection point for all of Iraq.
"If it looks like a weapon or anything that could do harm, it gets collected during raids," said U.S. Army Sgt.1st Class Alejandro Jimenez, Collective Weapons Point noncommissioned officer-in-charge. The Patchogue, N.Y. native has seen some strange items arrive at the warehouse.
"Kitchenware, motorcycles, helicopters, a World War II-era BMW motorcycle with side car--anything that is captured," he said.
The weapons are inventoried and logged by serial number and weapon type. Most are
destroyed, while the more unique items are often sent to museums. Depending on the condition, some are refurbished and given to the Iraqi military.
"About 1,500 AK-47s were given to the Iraqi Army from the captured caches so they could train and learn how to fix and maintain them," said Jimenez.
While most deployed jobs in a joint environment come with challenges, the biggest one for this team thus far has been the limited amount of daylight hours.
"When units show up unannounced with large numbers of weapons, they can be processed if it's still morning," said Yang. "The warehouse closes at 5 p.m. because of lighting conditions, so if it's late the units have to take the weapons back and return the next morning to turn them in."
Yang deployed from the 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. after being on-station for just ten days before embarking on the six-month deployment to Iraq.
"I didn't mind. I've never deployed before and I wanted to experience the joint environment, so I was looking forward to the experience," said Yang.
"We do something here that yields direct results and affects the safety and well-being of Iraqi and Coalition Forces," he added.