Armed and Ready

Airman 1st Class Aaron Hill, 51st Fighter Wing entry controller, turns in an M-4 rifle to Senior Airman Sidney Maxwell, 51st Security Forces Squadron armorer during Exercise Beverly Midnight 16-01 on Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, March 10, 2016. During the exercise, defenders and some augmentees in the exercise were issued weapons with blank firing adapters, which allow them to train in a more realistic environment without anyone being harmed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kristin High/Released)

Airman 1st Class Aaron Hill, 51st Fighter Wing entry controller, turns in an M-4 rifle to Senior Airman Sidney Maxwell, 51st Security Forces Squadron armorer during Exercise Beverly Midnight 16-01 on Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, March 10, 2016. During the exercise, defenders and some augmentees in the exercise were issued weapons with blank firing adapters, which allow them to train in a more realistic environment without anyone being harmed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kristin High/Released)

Senior Airman Sidney Maxwell, 51st Security Forces Squadron armorer, receives 50-caliber rounds from Senior Airman GianFranco Pagan Marquez, 51st SFS defender on Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, March 10, 2016. Members working in the armory are accountable for every weapon and piece of ammunition issued to security forces Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kristin High/Released)

Senior Airman Sidney Maxwell, 51st Security Forces Squadron armorer, receives 50-caliber rounds from Senior Airman GianFranco Pagan Marquez, 51st SFS defender on Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, March 10, 2016. Members working in the armory are accountable for every weapon and piece of ammunition issued to security forces Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kristin High/Released)

Staff Sgt. Philip Jones, 51st Security Forces Squadron defender, assists Airman 1st Class Aaron Hill, 51st Fighter Wing entry controller, with clearing his M-4 rifle during Exercise Beverly Midnight 16-01 on Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, March 10, 2016. A clearing barrel official ensures the weapon is safe before turning it into the armory. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kristin High/Released)

Staff Sgt. Philip Jones, 51st Security Forces Squadron defender, assists Airman 1st Class Aaron Hill, 51st Fighter Wing entry controller, with clearing his M-4 rifle during Exercise Beverly Midnight 16-01 on Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, March 10, 2016. A clearing barrel official ensures the weapon is safe before turning it into the armory. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kristin High/Released)

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --

The Airmen of the 51st Security Forces Squadron armory are part of an elite group whose mission is none other than ensuring base personnel are armed and prepared to defend the base.

Whether real-world or throughout exercises such as Beverly Midnight 16-01, these Airmen play a dual role. They provide weapons to defenders who are still actively patrolling the base and they provide weapons to augmentees and other critical exercise players, such as shelter management teams and most officers.

Some of the personnel who are issued weapons are a part of the installation arming and response program.

To prepare for a potential base attack, numerous personnel from various career fields are provided weapons to augment or assist security forces in escalated incidents, which are practiced during exercises, said 1st Lt. Karlo Rivera, Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operations officer in charge.

The armory issues a plethora of weapons, which depends on the role and function of the defenders, augmentees or installation arming and response personnel.

“We are responsible for everything from M-16 rifles to M-2 50-caliber machine guns,” said Airman 1st Class Russell Morris, 51st SFS armorer. “It’s our job to control and maintain accountability of weapons, equipment and munitions.”

During exercises, issued weapons are given blank firing adapters, which allow armed personnel to train in a more realistic environment without anyone being harmed.

Throughout BM 16-01 the armorers issued more than 30,000 rounds of blank ammunition which is logged in their daily inventory.

“We ensure there is 100 percent accountability for all weapons on base, to include temporary storage for other units, as well as other organizations including the Army and Marines who come here for temporary duty,” said Senior Airman Sidney Maxwell, 51st SFS armorer. “It's a 24-hour operation, with weapons being checked in and out with each shift. Inventory control and the number crunching that goes along with it is a big part of the job.

“The most important thing about working here is maintaining the weapons and tools we give out,” Maxwell continued. “In the event of real-world incidents, we need to be able to ensure the weapons won’t malfunction. It’s everyone’s responsibility once a weapon is issued that you take care of it and clean it.”

In addition to firearms, the security forces armory also inventories radios, batons and other security related equipment.

“We’re essentially gate keepers for the armory,” said Maxwell. “We take our job very seriously and when our defenders leave going home, they know we’re here to ensure they’re safe at all times.”

Whether issuing equipment, maintaining accountability of ammunition, or repairing and inspecting weapons, those assigned to the 51st SFS armory are providing the tools necessary to those individuals whose duty it is to protect people, property and resources, defender or otherwise.