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    Expeditionary Airmen operate DOD’s busiest single runway

    Expeditionary Airman operate DOD's busiest single runway

    Photo By Master Sgt. Evelyn Chavez | A U.S. Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcon prepares for take off at Bagram Air Field,...... read more read more

    AFGHANISTAN - Fighter jets, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, small and large cargo planes are among few of the 46 different types of aircraft that deployed service members help operate daily in-and-out of the busiest single runway airfield in the Department of Defense.

    Since 2006, the annual airfield traffic count has increased from 143,705 to 333,610 as the support for Operation Enduring Freedom continues. Airmen and civilian contractors work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure airfield operations are successfully accomplished.

    “We have completed 2.6 million operations since 2006,” said Capt. Kyle Sultemeier, 455th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron, airfield and airspace liaison officer. “This breaks down to more than 700 operations a day. There is always something happening whether it is people or cargo coming in-and- out, the airfield is consistently busy.”

    While missions are flown about every two minutes, it takes hard work from individuals in multiple units to ensure the execution of decisive airpower is achieved in a contingent environment. Airmen and civilians in units like Airfield Management, Civil Engineer, Aerial Port and Expeditionary Base Defense have hands on the daily airfield operations.

    The unit responsible for overseeing majority of the airfield tasks is Airfield Operations. The unit is split into two sections, Airfield Management, which is charged with the physical runways and ramps, and Air Traffic Control, which supervises the airspace.

    According to Sultemeier everything that deals with flight plans, flying requests and pilot’s paperwork go through airfield management. They also ensure the myriad of aircraft traffic are marshalled in-and-out of the airfield, that the flightline is clear of any foreign object debris which can cause aircraft damage and develop plans to confirm there is enough parking area for all the incoming aircraft.

    “Everything that happens on the airfield is essential,” said Sultemeier. “For example if there is an indirect fire attack or some kind of damage to the airfield, Civil Engineer would have a big presence in ensuring the damage is fixed.”

    After more than 10 years of heavy use, the airfield requires Civil Engineer Airmen to upkeep the wear and tear that arises. They respond at a moment’s notice to needed repairs and perform preventive maintenance to ensure the airfield is operational. Recently, the unit completed an extensive repair to the main runway ahead of schedule. The success of the project prevented prolonged runway closures and expensive repairs in the future.

    “The 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron ensures operability of the airfield by providing airfield maintenance, construction and operation for the senior airfield authority mission,” said Chief Master Sgt. Timothy Gilbert deployed from Air National Guard in Portland, Oregon, and a native of Turner, Oregon. “Bagram is the busiest combat logistical hub in the DOD, and we have a no fail mission to keep the airfield open and safe.”

    According to Gilbert, all Airmen here are part of a no fail mission. They are here to complete a specific task and work as a team to contribute to the wing’s ability to perform its capabilities.

    The wing’s units not only work as a team within their sections but also with other units to allow a smooth flow of the constant aircraft traffic.

    The 455th Expeditionary Aerial Port Squadron plays an important role because they coordinate all equipment, personnel and life-saving supply movement that come into Afghanistan via the airfield. As the busiest aerial port squadron in the Department of Defense, by supporting the busy tempo, they have serviced more than 14,300 missions and 114,700 short tons of cargo since the beginning of the year.

    The cargo operations that occur in the airfield support all service members whether located here or forward operating bases in Afghanistan.

    “Airflow does not stop, nor do the needs of our brothers and sisters operating in harm’s way,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jamie Vanoss, 455th EAPS chief enlisted manager deployed from Travis Air Force Base, California, and a native of Munster, Wisconsin. “Delivering support to them is an unwavering commitment.”

    As each unit plays an important role in managing the busiest single runway airfield in the Department of Defense, the requirement for protection of high value assets is necessary. Airmen with the 455th Expeditionary Base Defense Squadron are vital to the operation as they provide security for the aircraft and personnel on the airfield.

    Their part in the process allows the execution of the flying mission by intercepting hazards onto the flightline.

    “We are vital to the defense of the base,” said Airman 1st Class Tom Rusnak, 455 EBDS entry controller. “Our job is important here so that others can do their job and feel safe doing it. We want to ensure no one worries about what might arise because we are here to stop potential incidents that may occur on the airfield.”

    Efficiency and safety are vital in the success of flying operations that support Operation Enduring Freedom. While there are challenges with managing one of the busiest airfields, the 455th Expeditionary Wing continues to execute the mission as a team to ensure decisive airpower is accomplished.

    “The biggest thing here is that we are just another part of the team and another part of the big mission here at Bagram,” said Sultemeier. “It is interesting to see in a contingency environment how everything is tied together. It is something really special being here, to see how everyone comes together and adds their part to make everything work is impressive. The mission is really well executed here.”



    Date Taken: 10.28.2014
    Date Posted: 10.28.2014 09:42
    Story ID: 146284
    Location: AF

    Web Views: 327
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