Through the Years at Tobyhanna Army Depot
The Army’s presence in Tobyhanna can be traced to 1912, when Maj. Charles P. Summerall, commander of the 3rd Field Artillery, Fort Myer, Va., leased land for training his unit. The next year, he began the purchase of land that would total more than 20,000 acres to provide a field artillery training site for Regular Army and National Guard units. It was the only location in the state where live cannon fire was permitted.
The reservation went by several names, including Camp Summerall, Camp Tobyhanna and the Tobyhanna Artillery Target Range. An Army-wide reorganization in 1962 resulted in a name change to Tobyhanna Army Depot.
Tobyhanna Army Depot has served the nation since Feb. 1, 1953. In the early years the site was also used as a Civilian Conservation Corps camp, artillery training of West Point cadets, a tank and ambulance center during World War I, a World War II prisoner-of-war camp and a storage point for gliders used in the D-Day landings at Normandy in 1944. Tobyhanna briefly served as an anti-aircraft artillery training site during World War II.
Following the war, the reservation was turned over to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for conservation and recreation purposes. In the late 1940s, the Army determined it needed a permanent Signal Corps depot on the East Coast, near ports and electronics manufacturers.
Operational control of Tobyhanna transferred from the U.S. Army Industrial Operations Command to the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command in 1997. Today, Tobyhanna Army Depot is the region’s largest industrial employer.
Tobyhanna has a long history of sustaining warfighter readiness in the United States and abroad. Hundreds of employees work outside the gates of the Army installation on a daily basis. The depot has expanded its worldwide presence by operating Forward Repair Activities (FRAs), establishing field software capabilities and developing a sustainment maintenance program, called Tobyhanna Forward.
When Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, more than 120 volunteers deployed to Southwest Asia. Tobyhanna’s ongoing support during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan resulted in a 40 percent workload increase in 2004. Depot-supported systems, such as Blue Force Tracking, survival radios, satellite communications and aircraft survivability equipment, were essential to the success of U.S. forces. In June 2007, Tobyhanna’s growing mission requirements included Reset of systems used in Iraq and Afghanistan. Depot personnel continue to deploy to Southwest Asia to provide on-site support to the warfighter.
During the Base Closure and Realignment Commission years, Tobyhanna Army Depot gained joint service workload after the Defense Department reorganized its base structure to more efficiently and effectively support forces, increase operational readiness and facilitate new ways of doing business. The last of the transfers were completed in 2011.
Tobyhanna is the U.S. Army’s Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence for C4ISR, Electronics, Avionics and Missile Guidance and Control and the U.S. Air Force Technology Repair Center for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence and Tactical Missiles. In 2013, Tobyhanna leveraged its extensive resources to become the Army’s depot source of repair for the Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station, known as CROWS. A year later the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy named Tobyhanna the depot source of repair for the Gray Eagle (MQ-1C) Unmanned Aircraft System Ground Control Stations. In 2015, Tobyhanna was also named the depot source of repair for 13 programs.
Tobyhanna achieved unprecedented productivity during 2008 setting new records for direct labor hours, exceeding customer sales by $103 million and increasing productive yield to 1,643 hours per year. In 2011, for the first time in its history, Tobyhanna reached $1 billion in new work orders.
Tobyhanna Army Depot saw significant changes in fiscal 2014 as the Army faced budget cuts and force structure reductions. Despite workload reduction and budget restrictions, the depot improved performance and minimized expenses. Tobyhanna’s northeast Pennsylvania economic impact exceeded $3.4 billion in support of 13,500 local jobs.
That same year, personnel also embarked on a journey to install wireless local-area network technology at depots, arsenals and ammunition plants across the Army Materiel Command to improve shop floor automation and provide increased data entry capabilities. In 2015, Team Tobyhanna supported the language lab mission in nine countries. During 2016, depot personnel embarked on a new mission to support the Persistent Surveillance System - Tethered (PSS-T), a key provider of long endurance intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and communications to coalition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Plaques and statues, trees and other objects paying tribute to key figures and special events in depot history dot the landscape. In addition, numerous military and civilian awards reflect the depot’s long-standing commitment to the environment and safety. Tobyhanna programs for antiterrorism, and injured and disabled employees have earned Army-level recognition. The depot has five Army Lean Six Sigma Excellence Awards, an Army Superior Unit Award, the Army Chief of Staff Maintenance Excellence Award for Depot Maintenance and seven SHINGO medallions.