First nuclear-certified reserve unit in Air Force history
BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE — For the first time in Air Force history, a Reserve unit will become nuclear certified following the 307th Bomb Wing's Initial Nuclear Surety Inspection March 14 through 18, 2013, at Barksdale Air Force Base.
The 307th BW, tasked to support the 2nd Bomb Wing's nuclear and conventional missions through the auspices of the Total Force Initiative, will undergo five days of inspection to certify it is qualified to perform the U.S. Air Force nuclear mission.
Before a wing can have a certification to perform nuclear duties, they have to be identified by the commander of their major command as ready to undertake this mission, explained Col. Jon Ellis, commander of the 307th BW.
Inspectors from the Air Force Global Strike Command Inspector General office will perform process reviews and hands-on evaluations of the 343rd Bomb Squadron and 707th Maintenance Squadron. They will also conduct inspections of the 307th BW reservists assigned to the Command Post, Safety office, and those who administer the Personnel Reliability Program.
"This is a historic moment for our total force team," said Col. Andrew Gebara, 2nd Bomb Wing commander. "I appreciate all the hard work that has gone into preparing for this inspection to ensure the 307th BW receives its nuclear certification, further strengthening both our nuclear capability and the close partnership of our two wings."
With Reserve personnel already integrated into daily operations with the active duty 2nd BW, the 307th BW's successful completion of the INSI is only a first step. In June, the 2nd BW and the 307th BW will accomplish the Defense Nuclear Surety Inspection as an integrated team.
Initial preparation for the INSI began in 2011. The 307th BW conducted four Nuclear Surety Exercises in 2012, two NSEs in 2013, and hosted multiple Staff Assistance Visits from the Air Force Global Strike Command Safety and PRP Functional, the AF Safety Center, and AFRC A3N (Nuclear Operations Branch) and Safety throughout this time frame, said Maj. Ben Bowman, chief of the 307th BW Safety office.
According to Chief Master Sgt. Richard Young, maintenance superintendent of the 707th MXS, the MXS has been manning and preparing for the inspection for years. The squadron, who will have a four-member crew tested on an integrated weapons load, has been preparing with multiple loading exercises each week. In addition to the load test, all 31 PRP personnel in the 707th MXS will complete a written test proving their knowledge of the nuclear surety requirements and showing that all the preparation paid off.
"This is a must-not-fail environment. The INSI will prove we can thrive in this environment," added Col. Joe Jones, vice commander of the 307th BW and head of the 307th Nuclear Surety Inspection Steering Group.
As with anything new, seeing the idea come to fruition has been met with challenges, said Ellis. Since this is a first for the AFRC, Air Force Global Strike Command and the Steering Group have been working closely together to make sure the evaluation is designed to properly test the nuclear capabilities of the 307th personnel.
"We are working together very carefully to figure out the right answers," said Ellis. Once the 307th BW has completed the INSI and shown that it can be done, the process can be used as a model for other Reserve and Air National Guard units to achieve certification.
With continuing to strengthen the nuclear enterprise being an Air Force top priority, the entire base should take pride in how passing this inspection will strength our nation's nuclear deterrence role.