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    Small Detachment Provides Global Air Mobility in Australia

    Small Detachment Provides Global Air Mobility in Australia

    Photo By Master Sgt. Benjamin Wilson | Steve Melnyczenko, warehouse assistant, walks past a recently-arrived U.S. Air Force...... read more read more



    Story by Tech. Sgt. Amanda Sampson 

    Media Center - Japan

    As the Air Force’s only aerial port in the South Pacific, the 735th Air Mobility Squadron’s Detachment 1 plays a key role. Their mission: to provide global air mobility and expedite the movement of cargo into, around and through Australia.
    It’s a challenging job considering the size of Australia.
    “Most people don’t realize Australia is roughly the size of the United States,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Preston Webster, 735th AMS Det 1 commander. “To move things from one place to another takes time. The roads are not great on the interior since most of the population lives along the coast.”
    Det 1 relies on existing contracts and transporters to move cargo throughout Australia. Their primary customers are in Alice Springs, although they also supply the U.S. Marine Rotational Force-Darwin, in Northern Australia, and support some combined ventures with the Australian Defense Forces.
    Typically, one aircraft arrives per week and includes anywhere from 50-90 short tons of cargo that must be unloaded, inspected, and then re-loaded onto the aircraft before continuing to its final destination.
    “We are in a remote location. There are challenges to get things across the continent. What we do is important to help facilitate that,” Webster said.
    Another challenge is the tyranny of distance between units within the Indo-Pacific. Missions can originate in California, then go through Hawaii and Guam before arriving to Australia.
    “That’s something that you have to deal with being in Australia,” Webster said.
    Webster is the sole uniformed member of Det 1 and the senior U.S. Air Force official on base. He oversees three American civilian employees and three Australian civilian employees. He said it is a unique opportunity that he enjoys.
    “I think it helps to have Australians in our unit. That helps break down some barriers,” Webster said. “We enjoy working together. We have fun picking at each other’s different quirks being American or Australian.”
    Being a smaller unit allows for more one-on-one interactions, which allows him to get to know his staff on a personal level.
    “I’m able to allow them to do their thing without too much oversight. I see us as a family unit. We really have to work closely together because when a mission comes in, it’s all hands on deck,” Webster said.
    Maintaining that responsive capability to have access to different parts of the world is vital to both U.S. and Australian interests in the Indo-Pacific.
    Royal Australian Air Force Base Richmond is the only RAAF base in the Sydney region that has a large airfield, which makes it a critical asset for air mobility.
    “The importance of the mission both for us and then the U.S. Det are the same: to enable air mobility operations,” said RAAF Wing Commander Trent Harris, 22 Squadron commander. “So without 22 Squadron here, or the Det. 1 here, air mobility operations don't occur. We're a key enabler.”
    The Royal Australian Air Force also plays a key role in making their tenants’ jobs easier by covering utilities and providing a facility for Det 1 to work in.
    “It’s paramount,” Webster said. “We’re sitting in this facility that was built in cooperation with them. But more important than that is probably the relationships we’re able to establish and maintain. It’s important that we be good tenants and keep that relationship strong and good.”
    The strong relationship between the U.S. and Australia dates back over a hundred years.
    “Everywhere we go, generally the U.S. are there with us,” Harris said. “Or we are there with the U.S., and it's a seamless transition into that relationship. The U.S. Det here is part of the community on base. They're involved in everything we do and it's just a very, very close friendship that we maintain.”
    Webster says working with in Australia is a dream job.
    “It doesn’t feel like separate service, you know, separate countries,” he said. “It feels as it should, allies working together closely to accomplish good things and help keep the world safe.”



    Date Taken: 03.10.2020
    Date Posted: 03.09.2020 20:46
    Story ID: 364831
    Location: SYDNEY, AU 

    Web Views: 156
    Downloads: 2