Armorers support mission by equipping defenders

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Brandon Valle
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
The 90th Security Forces Group Airmen protect and defend the base every day. They operate as the guards manning the front gate, patrol the base and secure the missile field. But before they can accomplish any of their tasks, each defender must gear up at the 90th SFG armory, located in the basement of the 90th SFG building.

"We support the mission [of the group] by handing out the weapons, equipment and ammunition defenders carry each and every day," said Senior Airman Lionel McCall, 90th SFG armorer.

As an armorer, McCall is responsible for ensuring security forces defenders are armed with the proper gear before they leave the SFG building to perform their duties.

"Other bases are smaller so they have a smaller squadron of cops," McCall said. "With arming up 200 to 300 personnel a day, it can get hectic down here, but we handle our business and we get the mission accomplished promptly and on time."

The armorers maintain more than 17,000 weapons and pieces of equipment.
The large amount of weapons and equipment creates a number of challenges for armorers, but according to McCall, their main obstacle is manning.

"This armory is one of the largest armories in all the Air Force, and we work at a squadron-level manning," said Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Fowlkes, 90th SFG armory NCO in-charge. "We have 11 personnel assigned in here, where other squadron-level armories, with only 200 [cops], have eight to nine people."

Even with low manning, the armorers ensure the proper equipment is delivered to the correct Airmen. When checking out equipment, each flight brings in their own armorers to man the windows. The SFG armorers, like McCall, must watch over them as gear is issued.

"We are working to increase our manning in the armory to have a person to watch over each window instead of one person watching over six," Fowlkes said. "That alone will help improve a lot of the day-to-day operations we do."

McCall said they check each squadron's roster against three different lists to ensure proper clearance is met before handing out equipment.

"Airmen have to be able to multi-task to work down here," Fowlkes said. "In here, you have to be able to arm up multiple squadrons at one time by knowing what squadron needs what and which weapons need to go to whom. The more they are able to multi-task and be able to keep a watchful eye on what is going on, the easier it is to succeed."

As NCO in-charge, Fowlkes is responsible for ensuring the operations of the armory flow smoothly.

"I am here to take care of the middle ground," he said. "If leadership needs anything from my armorers, I take care of all the stuff. I direct it down to the armorers so they are able to arm the troops and take care of what they need to do every single day."

Fowlkes said he focuses much of his time trying to make the mission of the armorers easier in any way he can, including working on improvements to their processes.

"If there is anything new I can bring to the armory to help out, new equipment logs, electronic arming systems or inventory systems, that's how I try to improve the armory," he said. "One of the improvements we are working on is getting an electronic equipment system. That will allow equipment to go in and out more quickly by tagging it, similar to how stores use scanners and barcodes."

The addition of the EES would help document dates and times equipment goes out and to whom it goes to, a process which is currently done by hand on inventory cards.

"We are always looking at getting the best equipment that we can for issuing," Fowlkes said.

The armory also functions as the personal owned weapon storage location on base, storing weapons for everyone, regardless of rank or career field. For more information on how to register or store a personal weapon, visit the security forces group page at