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It’s all about the training

By Tech. Sgt. Karel Vallot 2d Maintenance Operations Squadron

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At one time or another, everyone has heard it at least once - "It's all about the mission."

Here at the 2d Maintenance Operations Squadron weapons standardization section, it is all about the training. Training is our mission. We must provide our weapons load crewmembers with accurate and fundamental weapons loading practices and provide as much technical expertise as possible.

As weapons load crew members at Barksdale, we must learn how to properly upload 26 different types of munitions in various configurations onto a B-52 in a safe and timely manner. A weapons load crew is made up of four personnel with each person having a certain task to perform during the loading operation, which must be completed precisely in order for the team to function as one cohesive unit. Each crew is certified under the watchful eyes of members selected to become part of the Weapons Standardization Team and must undergo monthly evaluations.

These evaluations are conducted under time restraints and certain procedures are established by specialized technical orders. If the load is not completed under the time standards established or certain procedures are not followed, the crew is decertified and the load is re-accomplished.

Each load crew - 22 in all between the 11th, 20th and 96th Aircraft Maintenance Units - must complete an evaluation on all 26 munitions every three months. Overall, this averages out to about 530 evaluations done each month by a section made up of only 23 personnel - not including training loads performed to certify new crew members assigned to Barksdale.

In addition, we also monitor flightline weapons loading to ensure the load crews adhere to the standards, policies and procedures established while they are not in the training environment. As a result, weapons loading consistently meets Air Combat Command's weapons release rate of 99 percent. All of this is done without the use of an indoor load training facility where we must endure all of the local elements such as freezing rains in the winter, blazing temperatures in the summer and the onslaught of countless mosquitos and other insects.

On average, we lose more than 1,500 man-hours annually due to weather and still manage to maintain the appropriate amount of certified load crews required by ACC.

Overall, proper training is the key to providing exceptional warriors ready now to provide responsive, flexible and accurate bomber combat power and expeditionary combat support to warfighting commanders... anytime... anywhere.