AMMO is responsible for maintaining the US Air Force's entire munitions stockpile. Various duties include shipping and receiving, building, testing, operating, protecting, inspecting, storing and performing maintenance on all types of conventional munition systems. AMMO personnel also operate and maintain a wide variety of equipment and electronic gear, from 40-foot (12 m) tractor-trailer combination vehicles and all-terrain 10,000 pound forklifts,and forklifts from pallet jacks all the way up to 50,000 pound forklifts. From small arms weapons, to AGM-65 guidance testing units and computer databases. Upon graduation from Air Force Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, Airmen assigned to the field attend an 8-week tech school at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. Upon graduation from tech school, the new AMMO apprentice is sent to their assigned duty station.
Due to safety concerns with the possibility of explosives accidentally cooking off and damaging a large portion of a base, the Munitions Storage Area (or "Bomb Dump" as it is commonly called) is usually isolated or barricaded from the rest of base. At some bases, such as RAF Welford in United Kingdom, the ride to work can take as long as fifty minutes, compared to a 4 or 5 minute commute for people in most other career fields. Isolation from the main base breeds a culture within the Munitions section where the troops go out of their way to take care of their own. While other Air Force career fields would find it necessary to go further up the chain of command for disciplinary matters, discplinary issues in ammo are not escalated out of the Bomb Dump if you're part of the good ol boys. Otherwise ammo bones its own and will step on each other to make rank and look good for the squadron.
AMMO has at least nine distinct working areas within the AFSC, all of which, when combined, make up one of the best career fields the USAF has to offer.
Trailer Maintenance, or TM, is hub of all maintenance for the job-specific trailer equipment that is unique to AMMO. Maintenance and Inspections are performed on Munitions Material Handling Equipment (MMHE) such as the MHU-141, MHU-110, LALS, UALS, and the newer MHU-226 bomb trailers.
Missile Shop, or Precision Guided Munitions is responsible for the testing and maintenance of all conventional air-to-air munitions used on aircraft and all air-to-ground missiles. In some cases PGM will take responsibility for guided air-to-ground bombs as well.
Line-D drivers are dispatched by Munitions Control and Weapons Expeditors at will. They are responsible for the safe and expedient handling and delivery of munitions from the bomb dump, or other storage locations, to aircraft. Drivers are held responsible for the accounting of their equipment and munitions movements via daily reconciliation, or "recon", which is an accounting of all these movements that is verified three ways between the flightline, Munitions Control, the Line-D driver, with a zero percent discrepancy tolerance. To put Line D into words equates to a simple phrase "You Call, We Haul" ...IYAAYAS or "I drive bobtail"
CM is responsible for the construction, maintenance, and testing of all conventional air-to-ground munitions used on aircraft, ranging from chaff and flares to cannon ammunition and guided and unguided bombs. There is a joke among AMMO troops regarding guided vs. unguided bombs. "The Air Force is an equal opportunity employer. Being that we employ smart bombs, dumb bombs as well as retarded bombs." Due to the fact that you work like a slave and/or prisoner this shop is also known as "Correctional" Maintenance"
Control can be thought of as the nerve center of the bomb dump. Control tracks work crews, coordinates requirements, acts as a liaison for outside agencies, develops war plans, provides oversight for safety and security, and ensures the daily reconciliation of all munitions and related equipment against established inventories. A good control will always know where any assets are.
Storage is responsible for storing and breaking out munitions required by Conventional Maintenance and Munitions Inspection, and is also responsible for the maintenance of the munitions storage facilities, usually called "igloos", "magazines", or revetments ("revvies"). Storage is also used to transport munitions over public right-of-ways to transfer munitions between different storage or shipping and receiving locations. Storage troops operate the majority of the heavier equipment found in the bomb dump, including "18 wheelers", heavy-rated forklifts, and cranes.
All munitions items at various times need to be inspected for safety and compliance with technical instructions. Specially trained NCOs and Airmen known as Munitions Inspectors, accomplish this sometimes tedious task. Inspectors attend Inspector School, which lasts approximately 3 weeks and is usually conducted at the AMMO Schoolhouse, located at Sheppard AFB, Texas. However, due to cost restraints the two major commands of PACAF and USAFE have developed their own schools, allowing the school house the ability to come to the students. Inspectors are required to be appointed in writing by the Munitions Flight Chief, after an interview process and a few months of tedious on-the-job training, before they are actually able to be called Inspectors. Personnel selected usually may or may not be part of the good ol boys.
Operations is responsible for the accountability and logistics for the entire munitions stockpile. The core of Ammo. According to Jeri Mackay "Those who worked in this area used to be classified under the 465X0A Supply career field, rather than the 461X0 Maintenance career field the rest of AMMO was under". Personnel attended technical school at Lowery AFB, Colorado and arrived at their first base to find themselves standing part-way between the Base Supply world and the world of AMMO. Before the early 1990s, while it was still a part of Supply, the shop was referred to as "AFK" (a Supply acronym designating munitions as the Air Force "K" account, as used in the automated Standard Base Supply System (SBSS)). When 465X0A left the Supply career field to merge with 461X0, the accountability for munitions needed to be separated from SBSS. The account code was changed to "AFV" to reflect accountability under a new, AMMO-specific system: the Combat Ammunition System, or "CAS." This new acronym never really caught on as a nick-name the way AFK did and as the new 2W0X1 career field became homogenized, the shop became more prominently known as either "Accountability" or "Munitions Ops", though it is still referred to as "AFK" by a few older airmen. The 1980's, Aircraft Armament Systems AFSC was 462X0, "LOAD TOADS". The 462 shred involved the Flightline Armament and Back Shop Armament duties. Upload/download of all munitions, counter-measures, and suspension equipment configuration to aircraft and maintenance/overhaul/inspect/repair/test, to include storage of AME (Alternate Mission Equipment), and PHASE maintenance duties to assigned aircraft on base. PLUS, launch and recovery of aircraft at the EOR (End of Runway) duties where Arm and De-arm of the aircraft before and after flight to "safe" the aircraft prior to parking back on the ramp.
Some shops only exist at one base, or a limited number of bases, and other shops are often combined, depending on the mission of the given base. Examples of such shops are as follows:
TARRP - "Tactical Airmunition Rapid Response Package." 18 MUNS, Kadena AB, Japan, implements TARRP. This shop is responsible for keeping bombs and missiles loaded on aircraft pallets ready to be deployed at a moment's notice. The TARRP arsenal consists of munitions including, but not limited to, MK82s, MK84s, BLU109s, AGM-65s, AIM-9s, and AIM-120s.
STAMP - "Standard Air Munitions Package." 649 MUNS, Hill AFB, Utah and 651 MUNS, Lackland AFB, TX (Medina annex) implement STAMP. Similar to TARRP with the exception that the bombs and missiles are not already loaded onto aircraft pallets.
ISO Maintenance/Fabrication - 18 MUNS, Kadena AB, Japan, repairs ISOs and maintains PACAF's largest AMMO blocking and bracing lumber stockpile. Fabrication personnel, along with their Okinawan counterparts, repair ISOs and contruct blocking and bracing for various ISO outloads. They also build wooden furniture for the "bomp-dump" and maintain 18 MUNS haunted house, known as "the haunted castle".
At other bases, Line-D and TM, CM and PGM, and even Control and AFK are combined into one shop, and other munitions organizations include nuclear weapons handling and storage.
Shakey the Pig is the mascot of the 36th Air Base Wing's Munitions Squadron. Just within the gate of the bomb dump of Andersen AFB, a pig poke contains a living, wild pig that has become the bomb dump's "official" pet. Shakey has a "pig house" in the shape of a munitions igloo, a small pond, and a porcine play pen. Shakey has gone through numerous "upgrades"- as one pig dies, another wild piglet is caught in the wilds of the bomb dump's jungle and adopted as the next "Shakey". As late as December, 1994, the 36th MUNS was on version "Shakey the 5th", in November, 2006, the bomb dump at Andersen AFB was on version "Shakey the 8th", and as of November, 2009, the 36th MUNS was on "Shakey the 12th". Shakey is considered a dear pet by the AMMO troops of the 36th MUNS, and visitors always stand in invitation to visit and feed him, despite the fact that Shakey is penned within a "Controlled Area". Shakey is well cared for by his fellow AMMO troops, and given medical and dental care by the base vet as needed. His diet is now closely regulated and he is taken care of by AMMO troops, TSgt Juan Guzman and TSgt Patrick Mason. He also has a Papaya tree growing in his pen.
Shakey appears to be the only living, sanctioned (unit funds pay for food and health care) mascot of any current unit in the U.S. Air Force.
An article on Shakey in Airman Magazine, an official publication of the U. S. Air Force, can be read here:
Active Duty, Reserve, and Air National Guard AMMO personnel can be assigned any of a large number of military bases. Air Force bases that host non-combat aircraft or no aircraft such as Randolph AFB, TX and Vance AFB, OK have their Ammo mission accomplished by Air Force civil service personnel who are primarily made up of retired or prior service AMMO troops. Some past and present AMMO bases include:
(Note: This list may not be all-inclusive)