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Without ammo, it's just another airplane

by Tech. Sgt. Steven Wilson
36th Operations Group Public Affairs

12/26/2007 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (AFPN) -- A key element in the Air Force's global reach, global power capability is the tight knit and specially trained group of Airmen often referred to as "ammo troops."

The men and women who comprise the 36th Munitions Squadron here haven't forgotten Andersen is a strategically located forward operating base in the region.

"The deterrent threat of Andersen's war time capabilities is what keeps many of our adversaries in the Pacific from taking actions against U.S. allies," said Capt. Adam Rector, 36th MUNS production flight commander.

Captain Rector recalled a small demonstration of Andersen's potential in a combat scenario that his squadron was a part of.

"Two years ago (Andersen's leaders) brought in national leaders from around the Pacific and not all the nations were necessarily friendly towards the U.S.," he said. "They were brought in under the idea that if we show them what we can do in an exercise, they won't take actions that will force us to show them what we can do during an all out war."

But, should a conflict come, these Airmen are ready and able to put the lethality in America's combat power and global strike capability.

"We give the enemy the opportunity to die for their country," said Senior Master Sgt. Anthony Koberstein, 36th MUNS superintendent, in summing up his unit's mission.

Sergeant Koberstein said Airmen in his career field give the actual punch to the war effort by turning an aircraft into an advanced war fighting tool, which will allow the combatant commander to place lethal ordnance on an enemy target anytime he chooses.

"Without ammo, the Air Force would be nothing but an expensive airline service," said Sergeant Koberstein.

His thoughts were echoed by the B-2 Spirit community, deployed here from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo.

Major Kevin Templin, 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron standardization and evaluation officer, said an important component of any combat mission is what the bomb builders bring to their B-2 stealth bombers.

"They're an integral part of our combat team," he said. "If we don't have specialists building the weapons properly so we can take out the target, there's really no point in sending the B-2 into combat."

Airman 1st Class Jeffrey Neahr, 36th MUNS munitions systems journeyman, echoed Major Templin's comments by thoughtfully linking his squadron's mission to the importance of a theater commander having absolute dominance of the air.

"Without having a dependable weapon to place on target, there would be no air superiority," he said. "We may as well have the pilots drop rocks from their planes."

Airman Neahr said he is absolutely sure of the strategic importance of having "a lethal platform in the Asia-Pacific region."

"We support a continuous bomber presence," he said, while summing up his role in the nation's defense. "We're always building munitions for training the bomber crews deployed here. The constant rotation of different airframes helps us to be ready for anything."

His counterpart, Staff Sgt. Robert Guyton, 36th MUNS conventional munitions crew chief, recalled some of his experiences during Operation Iraqi Freedom and said he enjoys being a part of the Air Force's combat mission.

"I was at Royal Air Force Fairford, England," he said. "At the time you're so busy you don't really think about it, but when it's said and done, you feel really good about being part of something like that."

Just how important were his and his fellow ammo troop's efforts during the opening phases of OIF?

"Well," he said with a roguish grin, "none of the bombs we loaded that day made it back, I can tell you that."

The importance and expertise of Air Force munitions experts have been noted by some of America's greatest leaders. One is Army Gen. Tommy Franks, who led the campaign in Afghanistan after the September 11 terrorist attacks and devised the strategy for ousting Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. A key component in that campaign was the joint direct attack munition.

While General Franks knew the intense rain of artillery and bombs shattering the earth with bone jarring explosions along the Kinh Doi Canal during his last tour in Vietnam was the norm for warfare in that era he said, in his 2004 auto-biography, he "would've traded all those artillery battalions and fighter-bombers for about five JDAMs" in that particular battle, JDAMs that Airmen like Sergeant Koberstein, Sergeant Guyton and Airman Neahr are specifically trained to build. And, that's only one type of weapon in the Air Force's inventory.

These ammo troops can build any weapon system for any platform for any target on the globe.

These Airmen, proudly living up to their "ammo troop" moniker, are certainly a lethal arrow in the Air Force's quiver and stand ready to build the very weapons that would be used to defend America and her allies against aggression.

In the Pacific area of operations, the men and women of 36th MUNS are an integral part of the continuous bomber presence here, which is actively protecting 60% of the world's population in 43 countries, in the largest area of operations in the world.

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