The Strive for Excellence

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Juliana Londono
  • 9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs

 When given a challenge - do you sink or swim? The military is constantly presenting service members with challenges and expecting excellence. This is no different for ammo. Every class iteration that arrives at the Air Force Combat Ammunition Center (AFCOMAC) is posed with a challenge - to make FRAG - a feat that has not been achieved by many.

The Fragmentation Order, or FRAG, is the munitions needed to support a specific aircraft sortie. During the Combat Ammunition Planning and Production course, the class participates in Iron Flag, a five-day exercise where students are scheduled to support 142 sorties for 10 different aircraft in which they produce 964 complete rounds. Students stand-up three production pads: big bombs, small bombs, cluster bombs and small disaster bombs.

Certain standards must be met for classes to make FRAG. Students receive a schedule 24 hours in advance that they must interpret, source explosive assets from storage, move to the appropriate production pad, build to 100% technical accuracy, and deliver on specialized munitions handling trailers to the in-check location.

“Classes are composed of up to 80 TDY students, teamed from upwards of 40 different bases across all [major commands], including [guard] and [reserve] and must operate at a very high efficiency rate across seven unique functional areas to support the FRAG completely, accurately, and timely,” said Master Sgt. David Benner, 9th Munitions Squadron AFCOMAC curriculum flight chief. “Multiple classes have come close, but either failed to meet the technical accuracy rate requirement, had late lines, or critical defects that would have caused a dud munition. The exercise is purposefully difficult, as we are training munitions troops to be ready for full-scale combat operations against a major adversary.”

With the first AFCOMAC class held in 1986, the FRAG has only been achieved by 23 classes. The 23rd class to meet it, Class 23-05, is the first class in 13 years to make FRAG.

“The fact that this feat has not been accomplished in 13 years is a testament to the remarkable resilience, dedication and teamwork exhibited by the class,” said Capt. Christopher Parmer, 9th Munitions Squadron director of operations. “This prideful group of ammo troops have set a new standard for classes in the future and even provided a fresh sense of optimism to the ammo community that meeting the FRAG is, in fact, achievable.”

One of the Air Force’s core values is “excellence in all we do” and achievements like these emphasize this value and show our adversaries that we are continuously ready.

“The importance [of making FRAG] cannot be overstated,” Benner said. “Considering the near future as we transition from [U.S. Air Forces Central] operations to Force Generation contingency planning operations in [European and Pacific commands], the ability to form an efficient, highly effective team with limited equipment, personnel, resources, and time is paramount in ensuring we are able to establish and maintain air superiority. It has been said, ‘If you aren't ready for the first day of war, there might not be a second day.’”