Have you ever wondered where the training missions at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., like Green Flag or Red Flag get their munitions from?
Or maybe how Airmen train with live munitions to become better at their craft?
What about how munitions units prepare for deployments? Well — look no further than the 57th Munitions Wing.
“Iron Flag is a two week, large-scale munitions assembly event,” said Senior Master Sgt. Donnie Roos Jr., 57th MUNS Production Flight Chief. “This event is to help facilitate Airman training and development within the career field.”
Iron Flag-Nellis 22-2 takes advantage of the fast-paced operation tempo here by training Airmen in big bomb builds. This exercise provides necessary training, while also creating a simulated deployed environment.
“I’m learning how to build and how to get everything ready in case I ever have to do huge builds,” said Airman 1st Class Madeline Ray, 57th MUNS munitions crew chief. “I know what I need to do first. I think that’s helped me out a lot with Iron Flag.”
The goal was to build over 900 bombs while working and training with Airmen from 14 other bases all over the Air Force. 57th MUNS has surpassed that goal with more than 1,217 munitions and has trained Airmen to build munitions for all types of airframes.
“It definitely plays into that [Agile Combat Employment] concept of anyone being able to be world-wide qualified as an ammo troop to go out there and support the mission wherever needed,” said Tech. Sgt. Robert Urango, a 57th MUNS Production Supervisor.
Iron Flag does not only happen at Nellis.
“Iron Flag is a concept that actually exists elsewhere in Ammo,” said Urango. “It originally started to help us go from five skill-levels to seven skill-levels.”
The original Iron Flag is hosted by the Air Force Combat Ammunition Center, at Beale Air Force Base, Calif. AFCOMAC is the hub for advanced training in mass combat ammunition planning and production techniques within the Air Force’s munitions units. The main difference between Iron Flag at Nellis and Beale is that most of the munitions made at Nellis go on to support large force exercises, such as Red Flag, whereas the munitions made at Beale are for simulated missions.
“Here, we’re actually able to build live bombs that are going to get actually dropped on the range to train pilots,” said Urango, “whereas at our school house, you build it and then somebody else comes behind and tears it down. It never actually gets dropped.”
The training received at these locations are invaluable to promoting operational flexibility. Airmen practice how to rapidly insert into theaters and adapt to the mission at hand, all while making critical decisions.
“If done right, Nellis Iron Flag can help bolster the munitions career field knowledge base for building up weapons systems,” said Roos. “Just because someone may be stationed at a missile wing or an [Air Mobility Command] base, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t know how to assemble munitions confidently.”
Airmen are pushed to become proficient in their craft and Iron Flag-Nellis 22-2 is just one instance of the unique training Nellis offers.
“You get worn out, but I think everyone should be able to experience this,” said Ray. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime type of thing.”
The 57th MUNS is one of the busiest munitions squadrons in the Air Force. Now, they have invited other squadrons from all over the Air Force to share their knowledge, while also building munitions to keep the Air Force’s pilots training and always ready.