Locked and loaded

By Staff Sgt. Chad Warren 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Of the many specialties within the security forces career field, one section ensures our defenders are properly armed and equipped to protect Barksdale.

Airmen from the 2nd Security Forces Squadron armory maintain accountability of all weapons issued to and used by 2 SFS personnel.

"We issue out all of the weapons carried by the officers on Barksdale," said Airman 1st Class Marcial Armitage, 2 SFS armorer.

At the beginning of each shift, personnel report to the armory to receive their weapons and ammunition for the shift. Depending on which post the officer is assigned, he or she may be issued heavier weapons or specialized equipment, according to Staff Sgt. Michael Pistis, 2 SFS armory NCO in charge.

At the conclusion of their shift, the process happens in reverse; personnel approach the armory window and turn in their equipment.

Due to the serious nature of the job, the armorers inspect the weapons regularly to ensure their wingmen are equipped with fully-capable weapons. In addition to function-checking the weapons, they must be thoroughly cleaned as well.

"Every two weeks, they must clean their weapons before turning them back in to us," said Armitage. "We inspect them and make sure everything is good to go."

Cleaning the weapons can be an arduous task, and the armory is strict in its inspection procedures. If a weapon isn't up to their standards, the armorer sends the defender back to clean it again.

"Nobody likes to clean after a long shift at work, but if the weapons are dirty, they could malfunction," said Pistis.

Clean weapons are important, so if they are needed they work properly, he added.

Although a large number of weapons are stored in the 2nd Logistics Readiness Squadron warehouse, the 2 SFS armory is the only 24-hour armory on base, he said. If a person leaves for or returns from a deployment outside of regular duty hours, the 2 SFS armory will temporarily house their weapon until it can be transported to LRS for more permanent storage.

The armory provides another important service to Team Barksdale by; storing privately owned weapons.

According to Pistis, a large section of the armory is dedicated to housing firearms that belong to Airmen who live in the base dormitories. Barksdale is home to many recreational hunters and shooters, many of whom are not allowed to store firearms in their residences for safety reasons. People who reside in base housing may keep their firearms, but they must stay in the armory until they are properly registered with the base.

Dorm Airmen have access to their weapons whenever they choose, and may check them out from the armory for up to 72 hours at a time, he added. For any time longer than this, the owner must submit additional paperwork.

The position of armorer is one of the oldest military professions, predating medieval times. Though the methods and equipment have changed throughout history, the responsibility is the same. To fight effectively, a war fighter must trust his equipment. This trust begins with the armorer.