by Tech. Sgt. Matthew Hannen
621st Contingency Response Wing
11/19/2015 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Thirty-five
Airmen from across the 621st Contingency Response Wing deployed to
Zaragoza, Spain in support of Exercise Ultimate Reach from Nov. 2-8.
The Airmen enabled seven C-17 Globemaster IIIs to drop approximately 600
paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division as part of the joint and
coalition exercise that drew participants from not only the U.S. Army
but also C-17 crews from Joint Base Charleston, S.C.; Joint Base
Lewis-McChord, Wash. and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
The multi-national live-fly exercise designed to showcase the ability of
18th Air Force to plan and conduct strategic airdrop missions drew
participants from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Canada, Germany, the
Netherlands and Norway.
More than 5,000 U.S. service members participated in Trident Juncture,
the largest NATO exercise conducted in the last 20 years that served as
an annual NATO Response Force certification exercise.
"We were there to make sure the aircrews and paratroopers could
integrate into the exercise without any issues," said Maj. Ryan Fandell,
921st Contingency Response Squadron contingency response element
commander from Travis Air Force Base, Calif. "We are a mobile airfield
with capabilities to control the air traffic, command and control,
aircraft maintenance and passenger movement."
Thirty-one of the 621st CRW's Airmen participating deployed from the
921st Contingency Response Squadron, two were from the 821st Contingency
Response Support Squadron and the 571st Mobility Support Advisory
Squadron provided a Spanish speaking translator from Travis AFB.
"Working with multiple nations and services always presents a challenge
to get everyone to talk on the same page," Fandell said. "But our Airmen
did a fantastic job of working through those challenges and making the
exercise a success for not only the U.S. Air Force, but all the units
and nations that participated."
One of the keys to success was providing members who could literally
speak the language of their host nation. Tech. Sgt. Moises
Chavez-Zavala, 571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron Spanish
interpreter, from Travis AFB proved to be the critical link between
Airmen and their Spanish counterparts.
"Prior to my arrival I spent a lot of time studying and practicing
various forms of speech that is native to Spain," Chavez-Zavala said.
"That preparation let me accurately communicate what each participant
was saying. I am aircraft maintenance by trade, and as a former sheet
metal technician, my prior job was handy because I was able to
understand the maintenance jargon being used by each country's
This was Chavez-Zavala's first time participating in an exercise of this
type, and he looks forward to more opportunities to use his skills he
"Normally my operations consist of translating in a classroom where
material is being taught to the partner nations," he said. "If given the
opportunity I would do this again in a heartbeat. I think it is
important role that we play and it's very effective to bridge that
communication and see the mission. It is very rewarding to see that
piece of the puzzle where our contributions play a key role in executing
such a large exercise."
Beyond Spanish speaking expertise, the 621st CRW also provided a key
advising asset in the form of an Air Mobility Liaison Officer, Air Force
Capt. Frank Culick, attached to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort
As an AMLO, Culick provided a unique strategic and tactical capability
by facilitating communication between the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and
Before the exercise, Culick assisted the 82nd in gaining a strategic
capability at Fort Bragg's Joint Operations Control Center by
coordinating with TACC for real-time tracking of aircraft as they flew
across the ocean to the drop zone. Arriving in Spain, Culick provided
coordination with the Spanish Air Boss on communication plans for the
mission planning cell, deconflicted weather limitations to further
facilitate airdrop operations, and while on the drop zone (DZ) in
Zaragoza, had eyes on the DZ and run-in headings to confirm that no
obstacles had been constructed since the published DZ survey. As only
specific personnel are authorized to control a large formation such as
the seven aircraft employed during the exercise's large-formation
paratrooper drop, Culick served as the secondary DZ controller.
"The Army and Air Force planners have limited face-to-face contact prior
to final stage of an exercise, so knowing each of their paradigms is an
invaluable asset to understanding and communicating the needs of both,"
Culick said. "On a tactical level, as an AMLO I provide that insurance
for clearing large aircraft formations over a DZ in the event STS is
unable to support."
Culick said exercises like Ultimate Reach are important because it
exemplifies the strategic and tactical expertise that the AMLO provides
to any operation.
"By being embedded with the Army, we are able to address mobility issues
at a lower level thus increasing the efficiency of an operation,"
Culick said. "Simply, we are able to address a very wide spectrum of
mobility questions that gets the job done."
The 621st Contingency Response Wing is highly-specialized in training
and rapidly deploying personnel to quickly open airfields and establish,
expand, sustain, and coordinate air mobility operations. With bicoastal
units at both Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. and Travis Air
Force Base, Calif., the 621st consists of approximately 1500 Airmen in
three groups, eleven squadrons and more than 20 geographically separated
operating locations aligned with major Army and Marine Corps combat
units. The wing maintains a ready corps of light, lean and agile
mobility support forces able to respond as directed by the 18th Air
Force in order to meet Combatant Command contingency requirements.
The 621st CRW accomplishes its mission through four distinct and
integrated lines of effort--618th Air Operations Center executed by its
Air Mobility Operations Squadrons, Building Partner Capacity through
engagements performed by the Mobility Air Advisors, Providing Mobility
Expertise directly at the point of need with embedded Air Mobility
Liaisons, and Contingency Response Forces who open, operate and close
airfields for mobility operations around the world.