Munition inspectors vital in supporting combat capabilities

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Greg Nash
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
Traveling a long winding road filled with cautionary explosive ordnance signs and low flying aircraft is the norm for the men and women who pass under the banner every day that reads - "Welcome to Ammo Country."

Isolated miles away far from their counterparts are Airmen from the 23d Equipment Maintenance Squadron. Within this squadron is the munitions inspection flight that is dedicated to inspecting explosive devices, ensuring safety and complying with technical instructions.

"It's important to be meticulous when handling explosives because essentially, if we aren't doing our jobs as inspectors and paying close attention to what we are working with, things could go extremely awry," said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman John Swinney, 23d EMS munitions inspector. "We take pride in what we do and how in-depth we get within our job."

Amongst keeping the base and themselves out of harm's way by being thorough with carefully handling explosives, the munitions inspection flight is also responsible for keeping munitions serviceable.

"Our mission in the inspections element of the munitions flight is to provide overall service of the munitions stockpile for the base and its customers," said Tech. Sgt. Shaun Crawford, 23d EMS senior munitions inspector. "Essentially, we monitor records to see when things are due for serviceability inspections.

"When assets aren't deemed serviceable, we'll put them in applicable condition codes where we can submit them to a depot for testing for demilitarization or destruction," Crawford added. "It really depends on what's required and called for by the technical order."

A technical order is a step-by-step guide for maintenance Airmen to follow and the munitions inspection flight is no different, utilizing the Air Force Munition Facilities Standards Guide to conduct inspections. 

"Periodic inspections are one of our more in-depth inspections," said Crawford. "These inspections are on a scheduled cycle in which we physically inspect a sample size from the lot number of the stock pile received. From there, we determine our inspection number and pull out applicable item technical data and compare each area for each item. As long as there aren't any discrepancies in accordance with the criteria, then the overall asset is considered usable."

The munitions flight inspection section is responsible for inspecting items ranging from bullets to bombs and also plays a key role in the 23d EMS's efforts to support the 723d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

"We work hand-in-hand with the 723d AMXS, [they are] like our step-brothers, if you will" said Crawford. "They deal directly with the aircraft where as we support different entities that allows them to do their job [helping pilots] to launch and fly their sorties [by loading munitions.] Our goal is to provide reliable munitions out to the flightline so that the aircraft can fly assets required to affect the mission in the battle space."

The munitions inspectors also provide reliable munitions to different entities on base.

"The [23d Security Forces Squadron] will always need bullets, not only for patrol and gate personnel, but also for folks who are in charge of getting people qualified to fire weapons," Crawford added. "Everything from bullets to 40-mm grenades, hand thrown grenades and various explosives to train their military working dogs; all of [these munitions pass] through our inspection element before its deemed serviceable."

Maintaining flexibility and having every one trained to certain levels to optimally perform is vital to the inspection section ensuring that Moody's munitions are warfighter ready through their serviceability inspections.

"Increasing our certified munitions inspector pool is something we want to establish throughout our flight," said Crawford. "Maximizing our flexibility with our flight is important, especially with some of the people leaving on deployments. Having everyone on the same page is crucial to our operations to complete our workload and meeting our goals to improve."

There is a lot that goes on into the explosive training of ammo and the munitions inspection flight continues to inspect, prepare, and build them according to guidance while ensuring proper safety measures always.