KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Forklifts are driven to and fro in a warehouse as cargo is transported to pallets and readied for the long trip ahead. Airmen work quickly to tie down the cargo and as levers crank straps taught, and the package is secured, another forklift appears with another package and the Airmen start the process again – like clockwork.
The 18th Munitions Squadron practiced readiness with a Tactical Ammunition Rapid Response Package exercise, Dec. 6, on Kadena.
As a week-long exercise, TARRP tests the squadron's ability to complete specific orders of munitions in a short amount of time.
“Today’s exercise is part of a unique mission we have here at Kadena,” said Capt. William Hinchey, 18th MUNS operations officer. “The only other base in the Air Force with this mission is Ramstein Air Base, Germany. We do this twice a year and the uniqueness of this one is that we are combining this exercise with our real world mission of munitions build up.”
Every missile, container and pallet built is inspected numerous times during the exercise, regardless of the specific simulated mission tasking to ensure safety.
“The 18th Munitions Squadron is the munitions depot for the entire Pacific,” said Hinchey. “In fact, the 18th MUNS is the biggest munitions storage area in the Air Force. We provide support to both Kadena Air Base and the various missions in and around the Pacific.”
According to Hinchey, the munitions storage area covers an estimated 164-acres of land and has approximately 116-miles of road, which is one of the reasons Kadena has the TARRP mission.
During the exercise, Staff Sgt. Beau Bridges, 18th MUNS production supervisor, monitored the start and stop times with each bomb build.
“When we get an order for munitions, we need to be able to complete it quick, fast and in a hurry,” Bridges said. “Our job is to make sure munitions are ready to go downrange.”
To pass the exercise, each completed pallet must receive proper inspection and information documentation by Airmen of the 18 MUNS, together with the 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron and 733rd Air Mobility Squadron. Once the chains and straps are aligned and tightened, the pallets are ready to be sent on their way.
“We have a timeline for when people need these munitions downrange,” Bridges said. “We have very strict guidelines we need to adhere to for safety and proficiency. We need to be able to do this at a moment’s notice.”
Even though the TARRP exercise simulates how the squadron would respond in times of war, the Airmen of 18th MUNS handle live munitions constantly and every care is given to follow procedures. Nothing is simulated in how dangerous the munitions truly are.
“None of this mission would be possible without the collaboration and expertise of our Okinawan partners,” Bridges said. “As we constantly rotate personnel in-and-out of Kadena, the civilians are the constant. They are very experienced and help train new personnel allowing us to stay proficient.”
According to Bridges, the 18th MUNS both the Pacfic Command Theater and taskings from around the world.
“The Airmen of the 18th MUNS do an outstanding job,” Hinchey said. “They are truly professional and are ready to work at a moment’s notice. It’s awesome to see what we can make happen.”