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20th EMS exercises contingency breakout procedures

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Steven Cardo
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. — U.S. Air Force 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron (EMS) precision guided munitions (PGM) Airmen exercised contingency breakout procedures on live munitions at Shaw Air Force Base, June 27, 2023.

The contingency breakout exercise simulated a rapid response force generation scenario in which PGM Airmen would work together to unpack, inspect and prepare live munitions for service directly from storage to further strengthen the Agile Combat Employment (ACE) capabilities of the unit.

“As we move toward an ACE environment, it’s a minimal footprint procedure,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Craig Miezejeski, 20th EMS PGM non-commissioned officer in charge. “The contingency breakout inspection procedures are written in a manner where we [prioritize] the major discrepancies that cause weapons failure and mission degradation. The procedures are then focused less on the lifespan of the missile and more on getting it into the fight as quickly as possible.”

The contingency breakout exercise relied heavily on communication and team cohesion, allowing Airmen to practice performing under pressure and strengthen their leadership capabilities in order to achieve mission success.

“As the crew chief of any explosive operation you’re responsible for the safety and security of the munitions involved and the team working with you,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class William Ayers, 20th EMS precision guided munitions specialist. “It is an operation we have never done before. It required me to do hours of technical order research, planning and practicing with my team. We did multiple trial runs on the dummy munitions, tweaking the plan and trying to make it as smooth and efficient as possible.”

Munitions flight leadership intended the training to be an opportunity to familiarize Munitions Airmen with techniques rarely used in the current battlefield environment.

“Exercising the contingency break out procedures was important for our knowledge and training as a flight,” said Ayers. “Moving forward, it simply gives us extra flexibility in our career field and extra practice working with and around live munitions."

The munitions flight aims to continue exercising contingency breakout procedures to further strengthen unit agility and multi-capability, creating a more ready and lethal force.

“It’s really good that the Airmen got the exposure [to the contingency breakout procedures],” said Miezejeski. “As we move toward a peer-to-peer or near-peer contested environment where an air-to-air missile might be expended, they would need to be rapidly replenished, and these procedures are here and [our Airmen] are prepared for it.”