31st Munitions Squadron [31st MUNS]
The 31st Munitions Squadron is a 129-person, Geographically Separated Unit (GSU), assigned to the 31st Logistics Group, 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano AB, Italy. The 31st Munitions Squadron (31st MUNS) operates on a US Army installation, Camp Darby, Italy, located approximately 280 miles southwest of Aviano AB. It is responsible for USAFE's largest and most dispersed conventional munitions stockpile, consisting of 21,000 short tons collocated in Italy, and two classified sites located in Israel valued at $493 million. It provides management and support for eight munitions custody accounts located in Italy, Spain, Greece and Bosnia. The 65-vehicle fleet valued at $4.1 million and 33-unit Aerospace Ground Equipment account, valued at $451,000, support maintenance taskings. Operating in a 2,200 acre Ammunition Storage Area (ASA), it provides a unique capability to globally distribute munitions using air, sea, over-the-road and rail transportation. It possesses 72 facilities ranging from administrative to earth-covered explosive sited magazines.
Tasked directly from the HQ USAFE Theater Ammunition Control Point (TACP), it coordinates shipments with the US Army and Military Sealift Command. It is Southern Europe's primary pre-positioned War Reserve Materiel (WRM) munitions stockpile and main location providing munitions resupply to forward operating locations. Munitions are realigned, called forward and retrograded by the TACP. The criteria for planning munitions movements is based on the required stockage objectives for each location. The total net explosive weight capability exceeds 18 million pounds.
As of early 1999, the unit was capable of storing a gross weight of over 72 million pounds. During Operation DESERT SHIELD, it received 3,500 tons via ship and barge in August 1990. In the ensuing months, it shipped 20,000 tons, culminating in the movement of 22,000 tons (40 million pounds) via barge, ship, rail and air during Operation DESERT STORM.
The mission of the 31st MUNS is to excel at receipt, storage, maintenance, inspection and expeditious shipment of conventional munitions in support of NATO and USAFE taskings. To accomplish this mission, the 31st MUNS maintained and stored, as of early 1999, almost 500 463L pallets with restraining devices, over 1,000 International Organization for Standardization shipping containers, and operates a fleet of 73 vehicles and 35 pieces of material handling equipment.
The Squadron work force consists of 9 Air Force Specialties in 17 distinctive work centers, aligned under the Command Staff and 3 flights.
The Maintenance Flight consists of Conventional Maintenance, Precision Guided Munitions (PGM) Maintenance, Vehicle Maintenance (VM) and Aerospace Ground Equipment (AGE) Maintenance Elements. Conventional Maintenance performs munitions maintenance, corrosion control and demilitarization. They maintain a $1 million WRM lumber account and assemble, block, and brace all munitions shipments. PGM performs visual and functional testing of air-to-air and air-to-ground "smart" weapons. VM maintains 65 special and general purpose vehicles and manage the squadron's Environmental Program. AGE Maintenance performs scheduled and unscheduled special inspections and maintenance and corrosion control on 33 powered units.
The Materiel Flight consists of Munitions Storage, Munitions Inspection and the Water Port Liaison Office. Munitions Storage receives, warehouses and ships the entire munitions stockpile through the utilization of 66 storage facilities and 13 open storage pads and maintains all USAF-owned facilities. Munitions Inspection performs cradle-to-grave surveillance of assigned assets, manages the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) Shipping Container Program and the Military Customs Program. The Water Port Liaison Office manages the transportation of all Air Force owned property to and from Italy including household goods and privately owned vehicles.
The Operations Flight consists of Munitions Control, Accountable Records (AFK), Combat Ammunition System-Base Computer (CAS-B) and Plans and Programs. Munitions Control schedules and monitors maintenance actions encompassing the three separate flights and provides around-the-clock contingency and emergency command and control functions. AFK provides management and 100 percent accountability for four separate Stock Record Account Numbers and eight custody accounts in five separate countries. CAS-B manages the squadron's Communication Security account, maintains the CAS-B mainframe computer and SARA Communication Message Center for the Army and Air Force. Plans and Programs develops and maintains the Master Storage Plan, submits and tracks squadron facility workorders and major construction projects, and provides contingency surface, sea and rail out/inload training for all munitions personnel and augmentees.
The 31st Munitions Squadron is the most capable and strategically located munitions squadron in USAFE. Shipments of munitions and the deployment of munitions experts to Cervia, Italy, in October 1999 ensured the peaceful resolution of Operation SKY ANVIL. They have the capability to ship vital munitions worldwide by sea or air, and anywhere in Europe by sea, rail or road. With the Tombolo Dock located inside the boundaries of the munitions storage area, they were able to increase the command's CBU-87 allocation by 20 percent. Working over the 1998 Christmas holiday, they flawlessly received and stored 3,278 cluster bombs without incident or delay enhancing the commands warfighting posture which would be tested in the coming months.
In February 1999, the 31 MUNS saw increased munitions shipments, building up stockpiles at forward-deployed locations for the impending contingency in Kosovo. When the call to action came in March the 31 MUNS was ready to meet the challenge. The ethnic conflict escalated into the Northern Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Operation ALLIED FORCE (OAF). The 31 MUNS, then designated the 31st Expeditionary Munitions Squadron, with it's devoted professional men and women, handled 16,000 short tons of munitions and supplied over 60 percent of the munitions expended during the contingency. While supporting 6 Air Expeditionary locations they overcame numerous transportation and other logistical limiting factors to ensure munitions matching target selection were supplied for 9,897 combat sorties flown during OAF. The actions of this unit directly contributed to "the most complex military operation in the history of the NATO alliance, the most intense air operation in Europe since the Berlin Airlift, the largest military operation in Europe since the end of the Second World War, the most precise large scale campaign in the history of airpower and the first air campaign in the history of warfare to compel a ground force to capitulate," as stated by the Honorable William S. Cohen, Secretary of Defense.
With the end of OAF, the operational tempo of the 31 MUNS did not decrease. They immediately began to reconstitute munitions stock-levels to wartime capability. In July, they sustained 24-hour operations, shipping and receiving over 2,300 short tons of munitions to and from the Afloat Pre-positioned Fleet (APF) vessel Steven Bennett. They also absorbed the munitions stockpiles of four Air Expeditionary locations in addition to shipping 28,900 pounds of explosives stateside for positioning on the newest APF vessel, ensuring strategic placement of global munitions meeting critical warfighter needs.
The 31st Munitions Squadron's history is derived from two separate entities. The first, the 40th Aviation Depot Squadron (ADS) constituted on 5 December 1956, activated on 1 January 1957. This unit, initially assigned to the 820th Air Base Group, and later the 380th Bombardment Wing (Medium), remained at Plattsburgh AFB, NY, from 1 January 1957 until it inactivated on 30 September 1972. On 1 July 1960, the 40 ADS was redesignated the 40th Munitions Maintenance Squadron. The second squadron, the 40th Ammunition Supply Squadron, was constituted on 15 August 1972, and activated on 8 October 1972. This squadron, assigned to the 40th Tactical Group, at Aviano, replaced the 7235th Ammunition Supply Squadron at Leghorn (Camp Darby), Italy. The Air Force consolidated the two squadrons on May 1986, and on 15 May 1986 redesignated the combined squadrons as the 40th Munitions Maintenance Squadron (Theater) [MMS(T)].
Following the consolidation, the 40 MMS(T) remained at Camp Darby and continued to store conventional munitions as theater assets. In addition, the squadron assumed responsibility for USAFE Harvest Eagle bare base kits on 31 December 1975, when the Air Force inactivated Detachment 3, 40th Tactical Group and merged it's personnel and equipment with the 40th Ammunition Supply Squadron. The harvest Eagle Branch moved to Aviano in 1986, reassigned to the 40th Tactical Group. Since then, the squadron's primary mission has involved maintaining the capability to receive, store, maintain, protect, dispose of, and prepare for the redistribution of non-nuclear munitions in support of the USAF in the Mediterranean area. The 4OMMS(T) became the 4Olst Munitions Maintenance Squadron (Theater) when the 401st Fighter Wing replaced the 40th Tactical Group at Aviano Air Base. After several name changes, the squadron was designated the 616th Munitions Squadron in July 1994, when it was removed from under the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base, and placed under the 616th Regional Support Group, also at Aviano. Effective 1 September 1996, the Regional Support Group was dissolved and the squadron again moved under the 31st Fighter Wing, and was renamed the 31st Munitions Squadron.
Over the years, in addition to the three Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards it shared with the 40th Support Group, the squadron earned five additional awards for meritorious service, one for the period 1 June 1978 to 31 May 1980, another from 30 June 1987 through 30 June 1989, another from 1 August 1990 to 31 July 1992, and another from 1 August 1992 to 31 July 1994. As of 1999, the most recent was awarded for the period 19 July 1994 through 19 July 1996 and was shared with the 616th Regional Support Group.