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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Air mobility keeps fast pace with war ops surges

10 April 2007
By Senior Airman Erik Hofmeyer
379th Air Expeditionary Wing

SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNEWS) -- Squadrons across the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing have increased operations to enhance theater-wide support for the current surge of troops throughout Iraq and Afghanistan.

One such example is the 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron, a 379th AEW tenant unit that links air mobility operations together to facilitate direct support to warfighters uprange. The squadron is currently processing two major separate Army movements in support of Operation Enduring Freedom including two Force Provider Module transportable base camp systems and 32 M916 semi trucks for an engineering battalion.

On average, the squadron has been loading an extra 27 to 36 pallets per day for transport on C-17 Globemaster IIIs, flown by 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron aircrews, and commercially-contracted aircraft in support of the surge, said Maj. Todd Dyer, 8th EAMS operations officer.

Three hundred and sixty pallets of force provider cargo began showing up March 22 at the 379th AEW. Force Provider modules provide housing and operation space for a variety of military missions ranging from support of a small military outpost to fully operational, forward deployed base camps and air bases.

The combinations of military and commercial products provide climate-controlled billeting, dining facilities, hygiene services, and morale, welfare and recreation facilities for deployed servicemembers. Modules vary in size and can accommodate a maximum of 3,300 people each, Major Dyer said.

A single force provider site requires five to 10 acres of land. Site preparation takes three to four days, and an entire camp can be operational in about 14 days using about 50 personnel, Major Dyer said.

Personnel receive and process the force provider cargo, inspect it, calculate weight and balance measurements, and palletize the equipment and work with loadmasters to get it onto aircraft.

Squadron load planners work with force provider personnel to prioritize what needs to be moved first and determine the sequence that cargo should be loaded, said Tech. Sgt. Warren Brockman, 8th EAMS load planning NCOIC.

The precise loading of equipment is necessary because warfighters uprange depend on supplies processed by Airmen, and commanders must have full accountability of their equipment. There's no room for error because the force provider equipment is trucked to forward operating bases soon after arrival in Afghanistan, Sergeant Brockman said.

Photo: Tech. Sgt. Garth Chablal guides one of 32 M916 trucks onto scales for weighing in preparation for shipment on C-17 Globemaster IIIs. Squadrons across the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing have picked up operations along with surge operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sergeant Chabal is the air freight supervisor of the 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Erik Hofmeyer).

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