KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Innovation and resourcefulness are key in making sure air power is ready to be delivered anytime, anywhere. The 18th Component Maintenance Squadron (CMS) at Kadena Air Base is taking steps to incorporate both in their daily routines.
The 18th CMS is responsible for the installation's propulsions shop, where maintenance is performed on F-15 engines. The squadron also consists of the egress shop which is responsible for arming, de-arming, removing, inspecting and installing ejection seats and its components allowing pilots to eject safely. Recently, both organizations have revamped their thought processes in their approach to day-to-day operations.
“What we’ve done since July is change the culture of ‘If a war kicks off at a moment’s notice’… how do we provide engines to all these F-15s that are going to be disbursed?” said Senior Master Sgt. Felipe Mendoza, 18th CMS propulsion flight chief. “One of the ways we did that was take our stock, which are our unserviceable assets, and brought them back into (service).”
An important part of what the 18th CMS is looking to achieve is fine-tuning agile combat employment (ACE) concepts. ACE is the cornerstone of the 18th Wing’s operating concept. It enables forces to operate from locations with varying levels of capacity and support, ensuring multi-capable Airmen are set in a position of advantage to generate combat power.
“It took inspections, it took really heavily leaning forward because we didn’t want to be operating out of one location,” Mendoza said. “So we kind of disbursed our assets throughout the installation and we took minimal tools and minimal people and we said, ‘Hey, get this asset serviceable,’ and they were able to do that in about 12 hours.”
The squadron used the recent Beverly High exercise to test their capability to sustain the mission in a contested environment and their ability to implement ACE concepts. Being able to accomplish these objectives can be crucial to ensuring engines and ejection seats are ready to enter the fight in an instant.
“They actually went to an alternate location and continued the mission at those locations which we had never done before,” said Capt. Tyler Roten, operations officer with the 18th CMS. “With this past exercise, it was the first time we’ve done it since CMS was here, but once was not enough because you identify shortfalls. But that’s the point ... if we continue practicing this weekly or monthly then we can get better and take whatever we need to those locations and then operate flawlessly.”
Not all aspects of the job can be as smooth as disbursing to a location and executing the mission. The egress section of the 18th CMS has to be very particular about their every move when executing ACE concepts due to the requirements in place for safely repairing ejection seats with the explosive materials needed.
“So when it comes to the explosives, the building needs to be rated for the net weight of the explosive … it gets a little tricky when you’re looking for a location,” said Tech Sgt. Jamie Santz, egress section NCO in charge. “So once we’re able to find the location, we’re able to complete the mission.”
Despite these challenges, CMS Airmen made it a point to exceed all expectations in carrying out the mission. With innovation, empowering Airmen to lead seemed to be the best approach for these situations and was credited as paramount for the squadron’s success by the squadron’s senior leadership.
“They rocked it. I let them loose and vector-checked them every once in a while but man … they rocked it,” Mendoza said.