Military News

Thursday, April 02, 2015

18 AF, USAF EC commanders complete tour of Pacific mobility units

by Tech. Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher
18th Air Force Public Affairs

4/1/2015 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- The commanders of 18th Air Force and the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center wrapped up a week-long whirlwind tour of air mobility units in the Pacific area of operations, March 29.

Lt. Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, 18th AF commander, and Maj. Gen. Frederick H. Martin, USAF EC commander, met with mobility Airmen from five Pacific Air Forces bases to learn first-hand the accomplishments and challenges these Airmen face in their operational roles.

The visits focused on members of the 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing, which serves as the Pacific arm of the USAF EC and is operationally controlled by 18th AF through the Tanker Airlift Control Center at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. Headquartered at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, Hawaii, the 515th AMOW is made up of two Air Mobility Operations Groups, six Air Mobility Squadrons, three detachments, six operating locations and five air terminal ground handling service contracts spread across the entire Pacific theater.

In short, 515th AMOW units provide rapid global air mobility support to the U.S. Pacific Command commander, including controlling, maintaining, servicing, and moving mobility aircraft during peace- and war-time missions vital to U.S. national security.

"These Airmen are part of something incredible, and it couldn't be done without them," said Everhart. "You don't see these Airmen in the limelight very often, but they are on every base with a runway and they are doing an important mission every day. They should be proud of what they do, and I can tell you right now that I'm proud of them."

Everhart and Martin took this message with them as they visited Airmen on JB Pearl Harbor Hickam, Hawaii; Andersen Air Base, Guam; Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea; and Yokota and Kadena Air Bases, Japan. The visits consisted of all-calls with mobility Airmen as well as face-to-face meetings with unit leadership. They also discussed mobility operations with U.S. Forces Korea and U.S. Forces Japan leadership as well as regional partners such as the Japan Air Self Defense Force.

"Expeditionary operations are Air Mobility Command's trade craft and the Air Force's strategic advantage on the world stage," Martin said. "The adaptability of our Airmen and the strong partnerships that they continue to support in this region directly affect our Air Force's ability to deliver global vigilance, global reach and global power."

The 515th AMOW, along with the 521st AMOW in the European theater, support various combat, humanitarian and contingency missions around the world. For instance, the 515th AMOW provides airlift transport of cargo to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, in support of Operation Deep Freeze, while the 521st AMOW was instrumental in supporting mobility missions in and out of West Africa in support of Operation United Assistance.

Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Rodriguez, 730th Air Mobility Squadron element leader at Yokota AB, said the missions mobility Airmen accomplish range from routine tasks like aircraft maintenance to emergencies that can pop up unexpectedly such as responding to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011.

"We handle about 890 aircraft arrivals and departures every month and never know what to expect day in and day out," she said. "We never know what new challenges every launch, recovery or maintenance of each aircraft will entail, but we welcome the mission with a 'bring it on' attitude."

Everhart said one of his reasons for visiting these units is so he can learn how to better support them when they need it.

"I want to see for myself the level of capability and capacity we have in this AOR because if something were to happen, such as a Fukushima-like disaster or an outbreak of hostilities, it's these Airmen who are going to be our mobility first responders," Everhart said. "I need to see for myself whether they have everything they need in order to shoulder that burden."

Martin said the trip reminded him that despite the challenges Airmen face in an uncertain future and rapidly changing requirements, air power comes from the efforts of Airmen.

"This trip to the Pacific Enterprise reinforced what I know to be true: the power of our Air Force is directly related to the capability of our Airmen," he said. "Air Mobility Squadron Airmen must continue providing innovative solutions to complex challenges and strengthening partnerships at their home stations to remain successful at delivering world-class expeditionary support for our nation."

Rodriguez said the mobility Airmen working in AMOW units understand the challenges and are proud of the job they do.

"If there is one thing I can say, it's that this unit is proud of, and want people to know about, how hard working, humble and committed our maintainers are," she said. "Our maintainers conquer what can seem to many as endless work and grease stains, but with that comes a great sense of pride in our work."

Everhart said he is proud to lead Airmen like Rodriguez.

"I am always amazed by what our Airmen can do when you give them just a little direction and set them loose," he said. "When you're scattered across the biggest AOR in the world the way these mobility Airmen are, it's easy for them to be lost in the shuffle. But they are there, every day, making a difference and I want them to know that it doesn't go unnoticed. I wanted to look them in the eye and tell them how important their job is and that I'm proud of them."

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