The logistics of defense
By Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson, 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 02, 2013
WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --
When it comes to supplying the mission, many people often think Logistics Readiness is the primary go-to for all Whiteman units.
Not so for the 509th Security Forces Squadron.
Security Forces' mission is to defend stealth firepower, U.S. resources and the Whiteman community, "anytime ... anywhere." With 24-hour security coverage, the unit resembles the Energizer Bunny because it never stops -- "it just keeps going and going and going."
However, Defenders cannot accomplish their mission without the right equipment. That is where the 509th SFS supply section comes into play.
"We acquire, maintain and issue more than $3.5 million of supplies and equipment for more than 525 Airmen," said Tech. Sgt. Roger Scott, 509th SFS NCOIC of supply. "Without their equipment, Defenders can't do what they need to do to allow the B-2 Spirits to perform their mission."
Scott works in a warehouse where, in addition to office supplies, he issues almost every piece of gear needed for police services, training and other SFS duties. When Airmen initially arrive to the squadron, he issues them approximately 20 to 25 pieces of equipment.
"They all will carry a tactical vest with magazine pouches, ammo, weapons and night-vision goggles," said Capt. Gabrielle Benedict, 509th SFS officer in charge of supply. "If they're carrying a heavy weapon, they'll also have a secondary weapon. On the law enforcement side, they'll have all of that plus their law enforcement-specific gear."
Attention to detail is a big deal when it comes to providing equipment that helps Airmen protect lives and assets, said Benedict.
"For example, just two years ago we bought new boots," Benedict said. "We specifically said we wanted boots without the metal toe because if you're standing out in the freezing cold all day, waving traffic or on the flightline, the metal toe will pretty much nullify the fact that you're wearing cold weather boots."
Benedict and Scott are also in the process of purchasing new plate carriers that are 10-15 pounds lighter than the current carriers.
"Ten or 15 pounds of difference makes Airmen a lot more mobile," Benedict said. "It's really hard to run when wearing a 25-35-pound vest, plus all the ammo and all the weapons, versus 10 or 15 pounds off, which will make a difference not only in the mission but the long-term health benefits."
Airmen can develop back and knee problems from carrying hefty plate carriers over an extended period of time, which can be a major negative factor in their long-term health, she said.
"People can get injuries even just from an exercise because we play the way we fight," Benedict said. "If you hurt yourself during an exercise, it doesn't help the mission."
Whether it is ordering new plate carriers or new boots, making sure Airmen have the correct equipment that has also been vetted and approved by the Air Force is a major challenge for the supply mission, she said.
"When you have the wrong equipment, it not only affects a Defender's ability to respond, but it also impacts their quality of life," Benedict said. "If we're not able to get Airmen newer equipment or the equipment is run-down from basic wear and tear, sometimes that's the image they'll have of themselves and the squadron."
Benedict also said that an absence of cold weather gear issued by the SFS supply section could easily diminish an Airman's morale.
"You don't want Airmen out on the post thinking to themselves, 'I'm going to work, I'm doing my job and I'm out here freezing my butt off,'" Benedict said.
The supply section also plays a big part in various exercises, inspections and B-2 deployments, said Scott.
"My section especially comes into play when making sure Airmen have the proper equipment before going out to support exercises and inspections," Scott said. "I'll make sure that there's nothing that is unserviceable or needs to be replaced."
Whether Defenders are performing a traffic stop or protecting assets on the flightline, they will always be equipped to face whatever challenges arise.
"Our supply section supports the security forces unit," Scott said. "I do what I need to do to make sure Defenders have the best equipment possible to do their job."