by Staff Sgt. Alexander Martinez
Headquarters Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs
6/12/2015 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Since
the May 26 deactivation of the Nepal earthquake response task force,
Joint Task Force-505, the scope of the U.S. Air Force's contribution to
Operation Sahayogi Haat reveal the magnitude of Pacific Air Force's role
in the response.
During the operation, Airmen, equipment, supplies and aircraft from Air
Force bases in Japan, Guam, Hawaii and Alaska contributed to the
joint-service response, providing the airlift capabilities needed to get
in and out of mountainous Nepal.
Brig. Gen. Michael Minihan, JTF-505 Joint Air Component Coordination
Element commander, discussed the importance of the Air Force
capabilities that supported the operation.
"The Air Force's role was extremely important to the JTF mission because
of the challenges associated with this operation," Minihan explained.
"The location of Nepal and the distances required for getting
humanitarian assistance and disaster relief into the country required
the need for our aircraft to set up an air bridge from U-Tapao,
Thailand, into Nepal. This allowed us to provide the unique air
capabilities the JTF needed and to bring in much needed aid and supplies
to help the people of Nepal."
On the ground in Nepal, the 36th Contingency Response Group from
Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, worked at the Tribhuvan International
Airport in Kathmandu. They assisted the Nepalese to accelerate airfield
operations and increased the capacity to bring in aid via airlift
ensuring aid was distributed faster, and ultimately downloaded 4,271,825
pounds of cargo from 94 aircraft. Following a second, powerful
earthquake May 12, 36th CRG personnel also provided medical assistance
for 58 aeromedical evacuation patients.
"Simply put, we downloaded aircraft quickly and safely to get cargo
where it needed to go," said Capt. Brint Ingersoll, 36th CRG Operations
Officer. "Our diverse team kept aircraft ground times to a minimum which
allowed a larger and faster flow of aircraft and humanitarian aid. Once
downloaded, humanitarian aid was sent out to villages or to the
distribution center the same day it arrived in Nepal, avoiding any
congestion at the airfield."
Airmen from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, and Kadena Air Base,
Japan, made up the Air Force support piece of the JTF-505 JACCE at
U-Tapao Royal Thai Naval Airfield, Thailand. There, an intermediate
staging base was established to support aircraft flying in and out of
Nepal. Additionally, U.S. and Thai forces worked together to support
Nepal at the Thai-U.S. HADR Combined Coordination Center for Nepal.
With air operations humming throughout the Pacific, much of the Nepal
coordination, monitoring and planning occurred at the 613th Air
Operations Center in Hawaii, which serves as the nerve center of air
operations during any Pacific campaign.
"It doesn't matter if it's an earthquake in Nepal or a typhoon in the
Philippines, the team assembled here [at PACAF] has all the
relationships, abilities, and the situational awareness needed to
anticipate what would be required of us, to prepare those requirements,
and to get into the 'fight' as quickly as possible," Minihan said.
In total, the U.S. Air Force flew 171 sorties and spent over 730 hours
in the sky, collectively airlifting 800 short tons of cargo and 863
passengers in and out of Nepal on C-17 Globemasters and C-130 Hercules
aircraft in support of Operation Sahayogi Haat.
About 900 U.S. military and civilian personnel from the Air Force, Army,
Navy and Marine Corps contributed to the Nepal relief efforts as part