NSA PANAMA CITY


It's All Mines

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Story by Amn Maxwell Daigle on 07/18/2018
BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La.--As he moved munitions around the bay unstrapping and re-strapping them to trailers, Airman 1st Class Elliot Broger, a conventional weapons maintainer assigned to the 2nd Munitions Squadron, knew that the job he was performing was fairly average for an ammo maintainer.
But he also knew his mission was very unique.
Broger, an active-duty airmen who works with the Air Force Reserve members of the 307th Maintenance Squadron Munitions Flight as part of the Total Force Enterprise initiative, was helping civilian Air Force employees and Naval contractors certify the MK 164 Mine Flight Gear Kit. This kit is a new tail section for the Navy's QuickStrike mine series.
The mines are designed be dropped from a B-52 Stratofortress bomber, one of the jet's many maritime capabilities.
Master Sgt. Shawn Thomason, 307th MXS material section superintendent, said that mass property measurements were being performed on the mines prior to flight.
"By doing this, we're making sure we can certify the new tail section of the mine so it can be flown internally on a B-52," said Thomason.
The contractors at the 307th MXS munitions storage facility were hired by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division in Panama City, Florida. They are responsible for test oversight and assembly of the weapon.
"Our ordnance team came out here earlier in July to assemble all the mines, and the Air Force mass property team is taking care of the measurements," said Bill Vandiver, a contractor and the Test Director for the project. "We ship the ordnance items here, we build the ordnance up here, we store them in their facilities, and they load them up on the B-52."
Vandiver and the other Naval contractors were at the 307th MXS munitions flight's storage facility to supervise the Airmen and Air Force contractors performing the mass properties measurements. This process involves taking several measurements on the weapon in full flight configuration.
"The contractors do those measurements on the mines while we assist them by moving the mines with our crane and provide whatever else they need to do their job," said Broger.
Thomason said that the experience his Airmen receive on assignments like the QuickStrike test program is invaluable to their development.
"They get to talk to some very experienced subject matter experts who can teach them how these munitions impact the overall defense mission and how they are helping the contractors and civilian employees make advancements in the mission," said Thomason. "That motivates them to do the best that they can and to keep striving to help the whole military accomplish its goals."
Broger vouched for how the opportunity will help him in the future.
"I think the ability to be able to gather knowledge from the contractors, especially since they work for the Navy, will definitely help when it comes to me being a part of joint operations in the future," said Broger. "I'll be able to bring more experience to the table then I would without this chance.
Missions like the QuickStrike test program may be unique to Broger and the other munitions flight Airmen now, but Thomason says support for testing operations is picking up.
"As far as our support for test and evaluations goes, the tempo and workload has almost doubled this year," said Thomason. "It's definitely a new normal for us."
An increase in support for projects like the QuickStrike test program is good news to Vandiver, who prizes the ability to work with the munitions flight Airmen based off past experiences.
"We've worked with the Airmen here a few times in the past, and every time we've got one hundred percent professional support," said Vandiver. "These guys are phenomenal."
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