By Staff Sgt. Mike Andriacco, USAF
American Forces Press Service
Dec. 26, 2007 - When the time comes to drop a bomb, aircrews need to have confidence that their weapon will work properly, because lives on the ground can be at stake. That's where Air Force Staff Sgt. Erik Ryland, the senior munitions inspector for the 451st Air Expeditionary Group here, enters the picture.
As a munitions inspector, Ryland's duties include maintaining the serviceability of the munitions stockpile, handling the shipping and receiving of munitions, and issuing, inspecting and tracking ammunition for airmen here.
The stockpile Ryland maintains includes more than 470 items and is valued at more than $10 million, he said. Given the size of the stockpile and the high operations tempo, a sharp airman is needed to get the job done accurately and in a timely manner.
"Sergeant Ryland is a phenomenal worker," said Air Force Master Sgt. Sean Outing, 451 AEG munitions accountable systems officer and Ryland's immediate supervisor. "He is extremely proficient and technically sound."
When a U.S. aircraft not local to Kandahar lands here, Ryland's team downloads and secures the munitions until they can either ship them out or send them along with the aircraft as it departs.
Describing one recent example where munitions had to be shipped, Outing said that Ryland was instrumental in repacking, palletizing and certifying the hazardous goods for shipment.
"The assets were redeployed without a hitch," Outing said.
Despite a demanding workload, Ryland said the accuracy of munitions inspections remains a top priority for him and his team.
"It definitely takes someone with a lot of integrity to do this job," said Ryland. "There isn't anyone looking over your shoulder every day."
His supervisor agrees.
"It takes all kinds of people to accomplish the mission," said Outing. "It is the airmen like Ryland in our Air Force that ensure we are always on the cutting edge and redefining what it means to achieve air superiority."
(Air Force Staff Sgt. Mike Andriacco serves with 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs.)