BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
Warheads on foreheads is a common expression heard across the Air Force, but without all of the skill and expertise of ammo Airmen throughout the career field dropping munitions on our enemies wouldn’t be possible. Maintaining proficiency in their craft is important, which is why all ammo troops in the process of obtaining their seven- and nine-level skill upgrades visit the Air Force Combat Ammunition Center administered by the 9th Munitions Squadron.
“In our Combat Ammunition Planning and Production course we bring in upwards of 560 students a year to teach and give them the training they need for their seven- and nine-level skill upgrades,” said Tech. Sgt. William Andrus, 9th MUNS AFCOMAC combat advisor. “We also offer Senior Officers Orientation where officers come in and get a two-day snapshot of the student’s course.”
AFCOMAC has existed for 32 years and has been at Beale for the last 26 years. The courses offered are designed to provide students hands-on training, which simulates munitions production.
“During the three week CAPP course, they learn about how to plan and prepare to deploy to a bare-base scenario,” said Tech. Sgt. Ashley Long AFCOMAC combat advisor. “The first couple weeks are spent focusing on the plan and in the last week they go through an exercise where they build up mass conventional munitions.”
Andrus believes the type of environment offered during the course prepares ammo troops for expeditionary contingency efforts.
“We take more than 70 students from all around the Air Force and put them in a room, give them a scenario for a war and make them create a plan and execute the plan,” Andrus said. “This course ensures we can execute the plans we create to meet the operations tempo the war demands.”
According to Long, the students build more than 1,000 bombs in the course, which allows them to experience building munitions they otherwise never would.
“Most ammo troops stationed at a base could be only supporting one airframe, but when they come here they are going over multiple air frames and building bombs for almost all of the aircraft we have across the Air Force,” Long said. “Not everyone gets a chance to build bombs, but when we deploy we are expected to do so. They are learning things that every ammo troop needs to be qualified to do.”
Behind the Scenes
In order to successfully conduct eight courses a year, the AFCOMAC cadre rely heavily on the Airmen who are permanently here under the 9th MUNS. They ensure each and every course runs smoothly by disassembling the students completed work and maintaining a rigorous inspection program for all components.
“Once the AFCOMAC students build the bombs they go through inspection and then they come to us,” said Staff Sgt. Alexis Presley, 9th MUNS munitions inspector. “We tear all of the bombs down, disarm the fuse, take off the fins, and repack the bombs.”
This breaking down and inspection process occurs over and over again until the students complete the building portion of the courses.
“Every single bomb they build we break it down. When they build a thousand we tear down a thousand.” Presley said. “We also inspect every item to ensure it is good to return to the stockpile. Every bomb, fin, and fuse has to be inspected.
Tearing all of the munitions down has created an efficient workflow and allows the 9th MUNS Airmen to learn more about bomb building for a variety of aircraft.
“The 9th MUNS is unique because normally we are taught to build bombs and here we are taught to tear them down,” said Tech. Sgt. Ricardo Quilantang, 9th MUNS NCOIC of munitions control. “It gives you a different perspective.”
In addition to the support they provide for AFCOMAC the unit is also responsible for the daily operations any other ammo unit would be. According to Presley they work with security forces, explosive ordnance disposal, aircrew egress, and other organizations.
The efforts of the instructors and the infrastructure maintained by the 9th MUNS Airmen provide a foundation for the ammo career field and the Air Force’s warfighting capabilities.
“We are training our people to be the best ammo troops out there and getting them ready for anything thrown at them,” said Long. “The way war will be fought in the future is unknown, so we want to make sure when orders come down our ammo troops are going to be ready for it.”