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New concept stands up in war     

Released: April 9, 2003

By Staff Sgt. Kristina Barrett 

457th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs

OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM (USAFENS) -- A new munitions tracking program here has faced the true test and made the transition from a contingency tool to a wartime plan of operations for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The munitions Command and Control Concept of Operations involves real-time accountability and reporting on status of munitions and tracking of assets.

C2ConOps is a concept of operations plan developed for wartime. Up until now, the Air Force had only tested it during Operation Northern Watch, a contingency operation.

"The concept uses people as 'shadows' to get real-time information," said Tech. Sgt. Michael Hershey, theater Combat Ammunition Systems operations NCO in charge for United States Air Forces in Europe. "Munitions troops call in data as each weapon is received, built and expended."

By 'shadows,' Hershey means people are tracking the life of the munition and updating the system as events happen, which shows the availability of weapons for mission scheduling.

During peacetime, the Air Force uses the Combat Ammunition System - Base to track munitions. All CAS-B users have access to munitions stockpiles Air Force-wide. During wartime and contingency operations, the CAS-B would have to be temporarily suspended because the system couldn't be updated to track munitions accurately.  To get an accurate count, munitions had to be counted by hand, which tied up people and lowered productivity, according to Hershey.

For example, during times of high use of munitions, logistics planners would have to call down to individual units to get an accurate count of the number and types of munitions the base had before making decisions on what weapons to use. Now, war planners just access the database and have real time information.

The new system is a Web-based data system that updates information hourly and keeps the CAS-B system accurate.

The concept was first tested in an exercise at the Air Force Combat Ammunition Center at Beale Air Force Base, Calif. It was then used during a real contingency operation, where it proved 100 percent accurate at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Hershey said.

"During peacetime we have up to five days to process a munitions expenditure in CAS-B," said Tech. Sgt. Gary Marsh, munitions data controller. "Reporting munitions during wartime is more time sensitive because the war-planners need real-time information to plan missions based on current capabilities and prioritize mission shipments within the area of responsibility."

Up until now, he added, there's never been accurate munitions accountability available to commanders and planners with the time frame there is now, usually within one hour.

'The systems has proven itself and we're going to try to use it Air Force-wide for use during exercises to train for contingencies and wartime," Hershey said. "It has been a success for munitions squadrons and war-planners alike."

-- USAFENS --



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