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Combat arms team supports all operations

by Tech. Sgt. Renni Thornton
451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

4/22/2010 - KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- Airmen at the 451st Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Combat Arms Training and Maintenance team here are directly responsible for ensuring each Air Force member is issued ammunition upon arrival here.

In addition, the two-person team of Staff Sgt. Chanson Johnson, and Senior Airman Jacob Spencer is directly responsible for certifying, inspecting and conducting function checks on all Air Force-issued weapons.

That includes M-9 pistols, M-16 semi-automatic rifles and other automatic weapons used by Air Force members here.

The two also perform weapons repair. They've only had to make minor repairs to some weapons here, but other U.S. servicemembers seek their repair skills on weapons rarely used by Air Force members.

"Recently we had someone bring over a Browning .50 caliber machine gun," Sergeant Johnson said. "While we don't see many of them, we were still able to fix it."

Most of the weapons used today aren't brand new. In fact, some date back to the 1940s and 1950s, but are still functional.

Aside from repairing weapons, the team tracks each round of issued ammunition.

"Most people don't realize how much paperwork is involved with tracking ammunition," he said. "Most important though, is how critical it is for each individual to keep track of his or her own ammunition. There is a lot of paperwork done when someone loses accountability of even one bullet. There have been occasions when members have had to reimburse the Air Force for rounds lost."

The CATM team also conducts inspections on issued weapons here twice a year. For new units, the two will conduct function checks on the weapons brought here before they are issued to the members.

"We use gauges and other tools to test the functionality of each one," Sergeant Johnson said. "We sign off on the paperwork and it's combat ready. The main goal of inspections is to ensure the weapon doesn't fail someone when they need it the most."

"Typically, we inspect 20 percent of any organization's weapons annually," Airman Spencer said. "If there are discrepancies among that group, we will inspect a larger number just to ensure all are operating well."

The two have added some much-needed equipment too.

"We built three clearing barrels for users on Kandahar Airfield within the past two months," Sergeant Johnson said. "It's important proper procedures are followed when dealing with weapons."

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