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Munitions tool passes wartime test

by Staff Sgt. Kristina Barrett
457th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs

04/09/03 - OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM (AFPN) -- A new munitions-tracking program has passed the wartime test at a forward-deployed location supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The command and control concept of operations software allows real-time tracking of the number and status of munitions worldwide.

The program was developed for wartime, but Air Force officials had only tested it during Operation Northern Watch, the previous enforcement of the no-fly zone in northern Iraq.

"The concept uses people as 'shadows' to get real-time information," said Tech. Sgt. Michael Hershey, the noncommissioned officer in charge of theater combat ammunition systems operations for U.S. Air Forces in Europe. "Munitions troops call in data as each weapon is received, built and expended."

Hershey said shadows are people who track munitions and update the system as events happen. The process shows how many weapons are available for missions.

During peacetime, the Air Force uses the Combat Ammunition System-Base to track munitions. CAS-B lists munitions stockpiles Air Force-wide, but data can be days old.

During war and other contingency operations, CAS-B is temporarily suspended because it cannot be updated to track munitions instantly, as is needed for wartime operations. Previously, munitions then 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 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, Hershey said.

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 for Operation Northern Watch at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, where it was 100-percent accurate, Hershey said.

There has never been accurate munitions accountability available to commanders and planners with the time frame there is now, usually within one hour, said Tech. Sgt. Gary Marsh, munitions data controller at this forward-deployed location.

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

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