by Trisha Gallaway
Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs
8/12/2015 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Throughout
the last 10 years, the C-17 community has seen many changes to its
deployment schedule and the pattern continues. The departure of crews
from Joint Base Charleston, S.C., on July 29, 2015 ushered in a new way
to successfully deploy in support of combat operations.
Currently, the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron is comprised of
members from nine out of 10 active duty Air Mobility Command C-17
In 2006, the 17th Airlift Squadron assigned to JB Charleston
revolutionized the way C-17 squadrons deployed to support combat
operations. They were the first squadron to deploy under the two-EAS
system. This meant an entire flying squadron would deploy as a unit for a
According to Lt. Col. Sam Todd, 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron
commander, prior to the two-EAS system, one squadron would deploy to the
area of responsibility and their primary function would be to conduct
ground duties managing the planning, scheduling and support functions
allowing stage-crews from other squadrons to fly the missions.
"We used one organic squadron to enable the remaining squadrons to
provide flight crews to accomplish the mission," said Todd. "Typically
one squadron deployed for around 90 days and the stage crews would be
TDY for less than a month.
"Now, [under the new system] our EAS will use flying crews from each AMC
C-17 squadron to accomplish both flying the missions and conducting
squadron support duties over their two and-a-half to four month
Todd, who took over as 816th EAS commander on July 2, 2015 is excited
about the new deployment construct and what it brings to the C-17
"This change offers the chance to integrate our C-17 community in a
completely new way," he said. "As we do this, we will gain expertise and
commonalities to further improve C-17 operations and advance our
employment capabilities. Our team is designed quite differently and I
look forward to the cross-talk and conversations that we will
have--relationships across our community will be strengthened."
Until this most recent deployment cycle, the two-EAS concept was how
flying squadrons in the AMC C-17 community deployed. But what does this
new deployment construct mean for commanders back at their home stations
who now have to find a balance between providing crews to support both
combat operations and higher headquarters tasking's?
"This new construct will allow the aircrew and the squadrons a great
deal of flexibility as they satisfy their portion of the EAS manning on a
continual basis," said Todd. "Any given Charleston squadron will have
an ongoing deployment contribution to make, which will be predictable at
the squadron level. The squadron can plan for the right aircrew to
deploy at the right time, allowing everyone the opportunity to schedule
according to significant life events, training and progression
requirements as well as other activities that sustain our Airmen and
Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Farrell, 16th Airlift Squadron commander at Joint Base Charleston echoed Todd's sentiments.
"Now we're receiving credit against the normal number of crews we have
operating in the system for the deployed crews," said Farrell. "As long
as that construct remains, we'll be able to support the deployment with
minimal impact to the squadron, although it does mean less crews flying
traditional mission sets."
The new deployment construct will also take some getting used to by the
families left behind during deployments. However, Farrell believes this
will lead to those families being better supported.
"In some ways, we're better able to support the families of deployed
members because it's a much smaller number," he said. "As a result,
there are more members and spouses with the bandwidth to provide support
and outreach. What we lose is the camaraderie of all of the spouses
being in the same situation at the same time but I hope the additional
support mitigates that aspect of it."
Todd also feels this deployment schedule will benefit the families as well.
"Communication and expectation management are key, especially when we
are dealing with the families who serve alongside our Airmen," he said.
"I haven't seen any studies that determine if this new EAS construct
results in more time at home but, if we can offer some additional
stability and negotiate timelines to include the consideration of
important family events