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Airmen and Soldiers build bombs together at combat shadow event

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Nine Soldiers got hands-on experience building bombs alongside Airmen as part of the combat shadow program at Bagram Airfield Jan. 23.

Airmen from the 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron AMMO Flight taught Soldiers from the 495th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion how to assemble GBU-54 Laser Joint Direct Attack Munitions. The 500-pound bombs will be added to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing’s built-up weapons stocks and will eventually be loaded onto F-16’s for operational use.

The 455th AEW’s combat shadow program allows Airmen and joint partners to tour different areas and get hands-on experience to learn about various mission aspects, leading to a greater understanding of how different organizations impact vital operations. The Soldiers participating in the bomb build came from various career fields including administration, logistics and medical.

“This allows the Army to get a closer perspective to what is being done inside the ammunition supply point and gets them closer to the Air Force mission set,” Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Eric Barlet, 455th EMXS AMMO flight chief said.

Army 1st Lt. Jeffrey Waters, 495th CSSB ASP accountable officer, said the joint bomb-build was a great opportunity for Soldiers to get away from their desks and do something exciting, while learning a new aspect of the mission.

“Desk work and bomb building couldn’t be more different, so this event was perfect,” Waters said. “This was a highly successful joint event between the Air Force and the Army, and we know the bombs that were built will be expertly placed to further our mission success.”

Army Capt. Joe Baker, 495th CSSB personnel and supply officer, said he and his fellow Soldiers appreciated working side-by-side with Airmen and getting hands-on experience in a different job.

“It’s great for us to learn how the munitions are put together and prepared for use,” Baker said. “The best part is getting to do some team building, so it’s fun.”

As the ASP accountable officer, Waters is ultimately accountable for all operations and all Army ammunition within ASP. Barlet said the AMMO Flight communicates with Waters’ team at least weekly based on operational needs, and they regularly discuss joint infrastructure and operational developments.

“The Army and the Air Force have come a long way in building relationships and are now in unison when it comes to operating within the jointly shared ammunition supply point,” Barlet said.

The relationship between the two organizations also spans beyond official duties.

“We have quarterly social gatherings to spread our camaraderie, to get to know each other and to thank or congratulate each other on all of our accomplishments,” Barlet said.

Waters said his team enjoyed the bomb-building experience and looks forward to continuing to build upon the positive joint relationship.

“I can't thank Chief Barlet and his fantastic crew enough for their hospitality and patience throughout this operation,” Waters said. “The 455th EMXS has shown they are an extremely professional, knowledgeable and hardworking crew that has been an asset to the ASP.”

The 455th Air Expeditionary Wing is the Air Force’s premier counterterrorism wing in Afghanistan and supports Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and NATO’s Resolute Support mission. Headquartered at Bagram, the wing has geographically separated units at Kandahar and Jalalabad airfields in Afghanistan and provides decisive airpower throughout the region.

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