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SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Staff Sgt. Desirae Lambrecht and Tech. Sgt. Stephen Powell, 332nd Expeditionary Maintenance Group weapons system controllers, communicate with various members of the base March 7, 2012 in the Maintenance Operation Center at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. The MOC is a hub of information that functions 24/7. Lambrecht and Powell are deployed from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. She is a native of Harvest, Ala., and he is a native of Illinois. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Melanie Holochwost/Released)
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332nd MOC never sleeps

Posted 3/8/2012   Updated 3/9/2012 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Melanie Holochwost
332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

3/8/2012 - SOUTHWEST ASIA -- A small group of maintainers at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia have a pretty unique set of tools they use to perform their jobs. Instead of wrenches and screw drivers, the Maintenance Operations Control Center's tool box consists of phones, radios and computer monitors.

The MOC is constantly communicating with a variety of different units across the base, according to Tech. Sgt. Stephen Powell, 332nd Expeditionary Maintenance Group senior weapons system controller, who is deployed from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.

"We are always on the phone," he said. "Sometimes, we can be juggling two or three different conversations at once."

The MOC is a hub of information, which is instrumental to flightline operations.

"Pilots, maintainers, leadership and various other individuals on base are always giving us information," Powell said. "It's then our responsibility to pass the information on to everyone else that needs to know about it."

The MOC is aware of everything that has happened, is currently happening, or is about to happen on the flightline.

"We keep track of an enormous amount of details, which keeps the flying mission going," Powell said. "For example, pilots give us updates throughout their flight, like when they are expecting to land. Maintainers keep us updated on their work as well, like if they need to order an aircraft part and when it arrives. They also let us know the moment they lose a tool. And, then they call us when they find it."

And, that is just the tip of the spear of the MOC's responsibilities, said Master Sgt. Kenneth Howell, 332nd EMXG Maintenance Operations Control NCO in-charge, who is deployed from Moody Air Force Base, Ga.

"Weapons system controllers monitor aircraft status, perform emergency response checklists and coordinate with numerous agencies to ensure the mission is successful," he said.

The MOC serves as a link between flightline workers and wing leadership, Howell said.

"We attend wing meetings and brief leadership about the status of our F-16s," he said. "We keep them informed about our aircraft located elsewhere. We also report the health of the entire fleet to U.S. Air Forces Central."

Howell said the MOC is a team-focused, 24/7 operation.

"We help with the limited manning in other organizations," he said. "For example, we assist the weather flight with alerts such as high winds, lightening warnings and the occasional sand storm. We also help the air traffic control tower if an aircraft needs to move through a controlled area."

Unlike most career fields, there isn't any formal training for the MOC, Powell said.

"We all come from different maintenance backgrounds and learn the job as we go," he said. "The great thing about working in the MOC is that you get to see a bigger picture. Over time, you learn about the different aspects of the maintenance group and how it all works together to get the mission done."

So, they may spend an absurd amount of time of the phone, but weapons systems controllers do so for a very important reason. They keep leadership and flightline personnel informed so the mission flows as smooth as silk.

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