731st MUNS conducts Waking Giant
By Airman 1st Class Thomas S. Keisler IV, 31 FW / PA
/ Published October 08, 2020
CAMP DARBY, Italy --
The 731st Munitions Squadron assigned to the 31st Maintenance Group, Aviano Air Base, Italy, and located at Camp Darby, Italy, conducted in exercise Waking Giant, Oct. 7, 2020. The exercise involved the entire squadron and simulated a contingency environment in U.S. Air Forces in Europe.
“Waking Giant is a local mission-readiness exercise,” said U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Ryan Swan-Ford, 731st MUNS production flight commander. “It’s a tool that the 731st MUNS uses to sharpen our skills and ensures that we are ready for war time operations.”
The quarterly exercise utilizes 100% manning and simulates a deployed environment. The exercise requires the 731st MUNS to execute munitions redistribution orders through various modes of transportation to various locations on the continent.
“The purpose of the Waking Giant exercises is to test the squadron’s ability to operate in a contingency environment, practice our unique capabilities, and increase proficiencies in our processes to ensure mission success,” said Swan-Ford.
The exercise starts off with a week of a “Warn Order” telling the squadron that a war could possibly break out and the squadron should start to prepare. The second week begins the “Execute Order,” which states the squadron is going to war and requires them to start prepping 20-foot intermodal shipping containers (ISO) and then shipping them out to support the war. The third week consists of clean-up, unloading the ISOs, and putting the munitions back into storage.
The many different sections of the squadron all have different tasks for the three-week long exercise.
“We have 11 separate work centers in our squadron, and each has a pivotal role to play in the execution of our mission, both day to day and in a contingency environment,” said Swan-Ford.
The conventional section, Precision Guided Munitions (PGM), and training sections run the Joint Stuffing Pad (JSP) and the wood construction crews. Stockpile management is in charge of moving all required munitions and empty ISOs to the JSP. Operations is in charge of accountability and writing the Load Data Sheets, making sure the correct munitions go into the correct ISOs.
Control is in charge of relaying messages between all personnel and keeping track of everything happening during the exercise. Inspection ensures that the munitions and ISOs are packed correctly, and proper documentation is affixed to the ISOs. Commander Support Staff (CSS) provides supplemental manning for non-explosive operations.
Vehicle Management fixes vehicles that may break down during the exercise. Aerospace Ground Equipment (AGE) places and maintains any support machinery for the exercise. Quality Assurance and the Wing Inspection Team ensure all safety guidance and rules are being followed. They also throw in scenarios to check if personnel know what to do during emergencies that might occur.
Although adhering to the restrictions of COVID-19 may have added some challenges, the 731st MUNS still performs this exercise on a quarterly basis.
“COVID-19 affected the exercise at the surface level with the requirements of always wearing masks, [physical] distancing and ensuring we wash our hands more frequently,” Swan-Ford said. “However, the squadron has adapted extremely well, having zero mission impact to our ability to perform in a contingency environment.”
With the completion of Waking Giant, the 731st MUNS continues to succeed and improve each quarter and every day.