5th Munitions Squadron brings the boom during Operation Tundra Swan

Written by: Airman 1st Class Alyssa Bankston, 5th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
5th Munitions Squadron Airmen load a Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile during Operation Tundra Swan at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, Oct. 4, 2023. The JASSM is an armed, low-observable cruise missile with autonomous guidance, automatic target recognition, precision accuracy and a J-1000 warhead. U.S. Air Force photos I Airman 1st Class Alyssa Bankston

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. —
Practice how you play. From Oct. 2, 2023, through Oct. 4, 2023, the 5th Munitions Squadron conducted Operation Tundra Swan, a 5th MUNS exercise created to implement the Agile Combat Employment and Multi Capable Airmen concepts to focus on training efforts in scenarios where producing ordnance with limited resources from a decentralized location is critical.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kenneth Hignite, 5th Munitions Squadron munitions stockpile crew chief, operates a forklift during Operation Tundra Swan at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, Oct. 3, 2023. Exercises like these are critical because they prepare Airmen for fast-paced deployments with little notice. U.S. Air Force photo Airman 1st Class Alyssa Bankston


“Operation Tundra Swan is a way for us to safely and effectively utilize the ACE concept of hub and spoke deployments,” said Tech. Sgt. Joshua Richardson, 5th MUNS munitions operations supervisor and Operation Tundra Swan team lead.


The 5th MUNS leadership organized Operation Tundra Swan to ensure Airmen could branch off to uncomfortable or unfamiliar locations and successfully produce ordnance if a war scenario were to occur. Speaking about tensions with adversaries, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Justin Zechman, 5th MUNS systems flight chief and organizer of Operation Tundra Swan says, “This exercise is important because of what’s going on worldwide.”


A warning order initiated Operation Tundra Swan, notifying Airmen of their deployment a week before the first day of the exercise. Next, the unit deployment manager and the mobility section prepared both unit-type codes and Airmen for deployment to execute the Air Force Force Generation model.


Starting in Minot, the first day of the exercise commenced when the release of an Air Tasking Order notified Airmen of what they needed to build. On the second day of Operation Tundra Swan, they simulated deploying out to different bases. “We’re using a hub and spoke platform for this,” said Zechman. “That hub and spoke platform is a centralized hub that will take 25 people, have them split out and figure out how to divide those folks into smaller groups and support these local areas to execute the mission.”


On the third day, they blew up a spoke for the exercise, and in response, they opened another spoke and deployed more Airmen from the hub to the spoke. With the hub’s low manning from the deployment, they had to get more Airmen to backfill for the deployed Airmen.

Airman 1st Class Amarissa Holloway, 5th Munitions Squadron munitions line delivery specialist, builds an Mk-82 ordnance during Operation Tundra Swan at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, Oct. 2, 2023. Munition systems Airmen like Holloway store, assemble, account for and transport weapons systems. U.S. Air Force photo Airman 1st Class Alyssa Bankston


“This exercise let us know what we need to work on to prepare for deployments if they were to happen very quickly and without a lot of notice,” said Senior Airman Jalen Winters, 5th MUNS munitions journeyman.


During this exercise, the 5th MUNS specifically practiced building ordnance for the F-15 Eagle, the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the B-52H Stratofortress. “They also have to think critically on how to build ordnance for other aircraft frames, not just a B-52,” said Zechman.
Doing this was not only beneficial for Airmen but also helpful to noncommissioned officers who led these Airmen. “This is really beneficial for all of us to maintain proficiency on our builds because we never know exactly what we’re going to build,” said Richardson. “It also helps us at the NCO tier work out the specifics of the logistics behind it.”


The benefits of Operation Tundra Swan reached out further than just 5th MUNS. “This exercise benefits the base, the wing, the group, especially 5 MUNS as a whole to find out how we can operate, what our weaknesses and our strengths are,” said Zechman. “We hit the ACE concept head-on.”


Providing training opportunities as successful as Operation Tundra Swan to service members is crucial to for preparing Airmen for any conflict. “We may not know what that war looks like,” said Zechman. “We are practicing for the ‘what ifs.’”
If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.

Airman 1st Class Daveon Palmer, 5th Munitions Squadron line delivery crew chief, builds a BLU-109 ordnance during Operation Tundra Swan at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, Oct. 3, 2023. During this exercise, the 5th MUNS practiced building ordnance for the F-15 Eagle, the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the B-52H Stratofortress. U.S. Air Force photo Airman 1st Class Alyssa Bankston

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