Anatomy of a bomb: USAF senior leaders get hands on experience

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif -- Like an 80s action film, one may assume the Air Force has an endless supply of ready-made munitions available at a moment’s notice but what Hollywood leaves out are the Airmen who work behind the scenes assembling munitions together piece-by-piece.

To curb this misconception, the 9th Munitions Squadron here hosts a two-day course that gives senior leaders a hands-on experience on the rigors of building ordnance. The course is designed to help decision makers obtain a better understanding of munitions at the tactical level and the process it takes to meet the strategic demands to maintain air superiority.

“We're trying to get field grade officers and higher to understand what is happening at the tactical level, when they're making strategic decisions on how to employ munitions in real-world missions,” said Maj. Daniel Brady, 9th MUNS commander.

According to Maj. Peter, 9th Operations Support Squadron director of operations, this course gives officers a cradle-to-grave perspective on what it takes to produce the munitions that senior leaders order for present and future operations.

The course features a full day of academic training on the technical aspects of munitions and a basic introduction to their assembly. The attendees spend the next day in the field assembling and loading the munitions.

Working in conjunction with munition Airmen, participants aim to efficiently build as many bombs as possible in a bare-bones condition to mimic a forward deployed location with a high mission tempo.

According to Brady, hands-on experience will give senior leaders a better understanding of the workload their strategic decisions have on the munitions Airmen. Having this knowledge helps synchronize with ground troops who meet their tasking allowing for a more fluid system.

“This experience is designed to make leaders think about those decisions,” he said. “Getting them to think strategically and tactically at the same time will really streamline the execution capability for the Air Force when everyone is on the same page.”

“I think it's absolutely important for senior leaders who have a role with munitions to take this course,” said Peter. “It will give them an understanding of what it physically takes to make the load out and how it could impact other operations in the future.”

Peter believes he gained a hands on insight on how munitions are made and all the factors that go into meeting the wartime effort.

“I really enjoyed this course and it was perfectly tailored to senior leaders to gain larger scope on munitions,” he said. “Getting out there and working next to the Airmen who make these munitions was an incredible experience I will never forget.”