Wednesday, August 5, 2009

23rd EMS munitions flight essential in supporting combat capabilities

by Airman 1st Class Brigitte Brantley
23rd Wing Public Affairs

7/31/2009 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- From the bullets of an M16 rifle used during a weapons qualification course to the joint direct attack munitions of the A-10C Thunderbolt IIs, one flight has sole responsibility for storing and maintaining these powerful weapons.

The 23rd Equipment Maintenance Squadron's munitions flight is essential in helping to keep combat capabilities running by providing and maintaining accountability for munitions at Moody.

"We help supply in two ways, directly and indirectly," said Senior Master Sgt. Mitchell Browder, 23rd EMS munitions flight productions section chief. "We directly supply the fighter squadrons with all of their munitions; we do everything from building the munitions to delivering them.

"We also supply indirectly by providing bullets, bombs, marking signals and grenades to more than 40 organizational accounts," he added. "Even when the units are issued these items, we are still accountable for them.

"We keep track of each item and conduct regular inventories of what has been issued and to verify what we have in stock," he added. "We also conduct inspections to identify any items that may have become unstable and need to be disposed of."

The gated compound comprises several physically distant buildings and is purposely isolated from the rest of the base.

"We are segregated from the rest of the base because of the dangers involved in what we do," said Sergeant Browder. "Each of our buildings is separated from the next for safety reasons. The space between the buildings and the space between the gated area and the base will contain any dangerous side effects should an incident occur. However, it is unlikely because safety is such a paramount aspect in all operations."

When the A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft were relocated here as part of the Base Realignment and Closure movement, the munitions flight grew from less than 40 Airmen to nearly 200.

"This manning build-up was a massive milestone for our unit," said Sergeant Browder. "Along with gaining so many personnel, we also gained many resources, including $2 million in renovations. Less than 10 months after this influx, we supported two back-to-back deployments."

As a result of the increase in personnel, training has become a top priority for the flight.

"Along with continuous on-the-job training, we also have an annual refresher course that covers what we do while deployed," said Tech. Sgt. David Justiss, 23rd EMS munitions flight combat munitions training instructor. "Our classroom and hands-on training allows our first term Airmen and those Airmen who have been here a while the chance to practice and perform the duties required while deployed downrange."

In addition to training, the flight contains eight other sections, including the precision-guided munitions section. The section is responsible all aspects included in two different types of munitions- mavericks, which are used in air-to-ground attacks, and sidewinders, which are utilized in air-to-air attacks.

"This section is responsible for all of the maintenance, testing and software upgrades of the PGMs," said Tech. Sgt. Bill Garrett, NCO in-charge of precision-guided munitions section. "The munitions we now use are much more precise, they hit their intended target and as a result, it reduces collateral damage."

Within the flight there is also the conventional maintenance element. They are responsible for the highly explosive munitions and flares.

"When we receive these rounds, we prepare and execute what is called a roll test," said Staff Sgt. Daniel Nailie, 23rd EMS munitions flight conventional maintenance crew chief. "Each string of ammo is laid out in thirds and we inspect every bullet to ensure it is serviceable and that there are no dents.

"Also, all military aircraft are fitted with countermeasure flares," he added. "When a rocket or other heat-seeking munition locks onto our aircraft, the aircraft will release flares that have a hotter signature, which will detract those munitions away from the aircraft."

It is because of the various elements included within the munitions flight and the dedicated personnel assigned to it that Moody is able to provide support for combat capabilities.

"The munitions flight plays an important role in Moody's mission," said Sergeant Browder. "By fulfilling ammunition needs for both training as well as for operations downrange, we ensure that our base achieves mission success."


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