Weapons Safety Managers Find the Best Solution Through TEAMWORK


It started with a phone call from the Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) Commander to Weapons Safety Managers (WSMs). The WSMs were on a fact-finding mission to assess if Joint Base (JB) Charleston, SC, could support the 82d Airborne Division (ABN) while the Pope Army Airfield, NC, flightline was under construction for repairs. The 82 ABN’s mission is a Secretary of Defense initiative to strategically deploy the 82d to secure key objectives for follow-on military operations supporting U.S. national interest. JB Charleston and the 82 ABN team collaborated to assess if JB Charleston was a viable option and, consequently, through research, deemed it the best choice by the 82 ABN.

After conversations with the LRS/ Mission Support Group Commanders, WSMs assessed explosive storage sites, operations sites, and explosive­cargo-loaded aircraft sites. JB Charleston is tightly encumbered by civilian development 360 degrees around the installation. The maintenance squadron’s munitions storage area comprises only five multicubes and an operating facility limited to 48 lbs of hazard division (HD) 1.1. The Aerial Port Squadron’s (APS’s) munitions storage area comprises three butler buildings and an operating location, with a total explosive limit of 30K lbs of HD 1.1. The C-17 parking apron has 54 parking spots and is limited to HD 1.3 and 1.4. The APS munitions storage is limited to only two hot cargo pads (HCPs), each sited for 30K lbs of HD 1.1. Consequently, JB Charleston contains minimal explosives storage space.

To assess whether JB Charleston would be capable of temporarily supporting the 82 ABN, WSM considered (1) What type of munitions would need to be stored there—what are the National Stock Numbers (NSNs) or Department of Defense Identification Codes (DoDICs)? (NSN/DoDICs identify the type of ammunition that would need to be stored); and (2) How much of these assets are WSMs being asked to manage? The reason for those questions is to determine the total net explosive weight quantity distance (NEWQD). WSMs use NEWQD to determine potential quantity distance violations from potential explosive sites to exposed sites. During the fact-finding process, the answers to questions 1 and 2 changed several times because 82 ABN war planners were assessing potential targets. WSMs worked with the 82 ABN Munitions Accountability Systems Officer-equivalent responsible for inventory and movement of their munitions.

When the total NEWQD was finally determined, it was apparent that JB Charleston did not have enough explosive storage capability for the 82 ABN’s needs. Thank goodness for Navy Munitions Command Atlantic (NMCLANT). NMCLANT is a tenant unit at Joint Base Charleston situated in a geographically separated location at Naval Weapons Station Charleston, and the primary user of the earth-covered magazines on the Weapons Station. NMCLANT agreed to work with the 82 ABN and 628th Air Base Wing WSMs to use nine earth-covered magazines.

This gesture of teamwork and comradery between the two branches of the military was a key enabler moment in the success of the munitions storage process.

To help expedite the outload process of ammo, mixed ammo compatibility, WSMs redefined the earth covered magazines to basic load ammunition holding areas (BLAHAs). WSMs proposed the redefinition to BLAHAs (event waiver) to unit commanders and the 628 ABW Commander (CC). The package was drafted, coordinated, and signed by the 628 ABW/CC, and the 82 ABN bulk ammo storage sites were defined.

In addition to ammo bulk storage, the 82 ABN has the division ready cage (DRC) assets required to be in close proximity to outbound aircraft. WSMs worked with the JB Charleston airfield manager and the operations group (OG) to redefine HCP Spot-42 to house DRC assets. HCP Spot-42 was redefined, and an assessment was conducted to ensure established restrictive easements were not violated. The waiver was drafted, coordinated, and signed by the 628 ABW/CC, and the 82 ABN DRC storage site was defined.

The 82 ABN IIA (individual issue ammunition) site is where the Army issues ammo to their troops and loads their vehicles with explosives for the operating site. Personnel and vehicles are then loaded into an aircraft to complete their missions. Several options were considered during the IIA fact-finding process, and eventually, WSMs and commanders found a suitable site. For the IIA site to be a viable option, however, because of the potential hazard imposed by explosives, the risk mitigation was for only “mission-critical” personnel to report to JB Charleston during real-world operations and divert non-82 ABN traffic to the front gate. JB Charleston back-gate traffic was restricted to the 82 ABN. WSMs drafted, coordinated, and presented the IIA event package to the 628 ABW/CC, the IIA package was signed, and the 82 ABN operations site was defined.

WSMs worked with the 82 ABN load planners to determine the “high-water mark” for explosives loaded onto aircraft to create the explosive loaded cargo aircraft site. That value was 1,708 lbs. WSMs rounded the amount to 1,710 lbs of NEWQD. As events unfolded and for the outload process to be more dynamic, WSMs defined the limiting factor (exposed site) and the aircraft explosives cargo parking area (AECPA) for 4K lbs of NEWQD of HD 1.1. AECPA had the cubic space to load four C-17s in the defined area. To give commanders other viable options to load explosives into aircraft, WSMs assessed HCP Spot-41. In addition, they assessed another explosive cargo aircraft spot on Taxiway Lima. The event waiver packages were drafted and coordinated through the 628 ABW/ CC and the 82 ABN explosive cargo loaded aircraft sites were defined.

N-Hour is the Army’s terminology for real-world operations start time. This point is the moment when the theories that were written into plans are executed and—because JB Charleston was blessed with talented individuals in key positions who were supported by outstanding commanders, and the plans were accomplished by exceptional Army, Navy, and Air Force personnel—JB Charleston was able to effectively perform as the Secretary of Defense projection platform for the 82 ABN in support of national interest.