Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mobility Airmen work together to move two Army Brigades

by Tech. Sgt. Parker Gyokeres
621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs

3/14/2013 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- More than 15 Airmen from the 621st Contingency Response Wing recently played a crucial role working with mobility Airmen from multiple locations to assist in the exchange helicopters and equipment assigned to two large U.S. Army units.

Beginning in mid-January, United States Transportation Command tasked the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst based contingency Airmen, another 100 Airmen from the 436th Airlift Wing at Dover AFB, Del., and three C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft to assist in the multimodal movement of two aviation Brigades into and out of Afghanistan. The mission concluded with the last flight of the contingency operation Feb. 21.

"It took a full month to move more than 1,500 tons of cargo, but we didn't miss a single delivery date," said Lt. Col. John Hardee, contingency operation mission commander from Dover's 9th Airlift Squadron. "The upgraded C-5M was so capable, we only needed to use three aircraft instead of the usual four or five C-5B models we would normally deploy for a multimodal of this type."

A multimodal mission uses more than one type of transportation to get cargo to a final destination. In this case, both sealift and airlift was employed.

Helicopters assigned to the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, Task Force Iron Knights, from Fort Hood, Texas, were delivered via ship to a port on the Iberian Peninsula. There they were transferred onto a C-5M for a flight to Afghanistan. After offloading the aircraft and support equipment of the 1st ACB at one of three bases in Afghanistan, departing helicopters from the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Ready, were uploaded for a return flight to their home station in Katterbach, Germany.

After unloading in Germany, the C-5M would fly back to the Iberian Peninsula to begin the cycle all over again. In total, the aircraft would fly more than 28 hours on every trip around the circuit.

The operation was kept in the air by two maintenance teams from the 436th Airlift Wing at Dover Air Force Base, Del., who provided en route maintenance and repairs in Afghanistan and at the home base for the conop on the Iberian Peninsula.

In addition, a small fifteen-Airman contingency response team from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., provided communications and command- and control support for the deployed aircraft and aircrews. They operated from two tents they set up on the edge of the Mazir-E-Sharif parking ramp.

"The 621st Contingency Response Wing set up and operated a satellite data link and mobile command post for the entire duration of the month-long mission," said Master Sgt. Tibor Puskas, 621st CRT team chief. "Our primary function downrange was to coordinate between the Army units that were leaving and the NATO base aerial port operation to make sure the proper cargo was prepared and waiting for the aircraft when it arrived each day.

"I was really impressed how smoothly it all came together," Puskas continued. "The plane performed flawlessly, the maintainers did a phenomenal job, and everyone worked together to complete this complex operation without missing a single beat."

The contingency response wing deploys mobility operations and builds partner capacity across the globe. The CRW extends AMC's global reach by mobilizing the fight, providing relief and advancing peace. The wing's personnel are trained to adapt and overcome difficult circumstances, while accelerating air mobility operations anywhere in the world.

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