Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: 'Afghanistan' (22) Currently Viewing: 11 - 20 of 22

January 5, 2011 at 9:39am

7th Airlift Squadron departs on 120-day deployment

MCCHORD FIELD, JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- More than 100 Airmen assigned to the 7th Airlift Squadron departed McChord Field Dec. 28 for a 120-day deployment in support of the Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn. 

"We are a unique squadron deploying at a unique time." said Lt. Col. Eric Carney, 7th AS commander. "We have a lot of responsibility on our shoulders and look forward to executing our mission with the same excellence as our predecessors. This is a great time to be part of the airlift mission and I know our team is ready to excel."

The unit will operate out of a single intra theater base as the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, with a mission focused on providing global strategic airlift, combat airdrop, aeromedical evacuation and humanitarian relief, to create an air bridge for personnel, equipment and supplies throughout their assigned areas of responsibility. 

The 62nd Airlift Wing has four flying squadrons, and each squadron deploys about every 16 months. Constant readiness is a key factor to ensuring a successful deployment with such high operations tempo. 

"We're looking forward to it," said Lt. Col. James Sparrow, 7th AS operations officer. "We've spent many months preparing for this. We're excited and ready to get started. Today is the culmination of all of the preparation."

According to Colonel Sparrow, after the deployment preparations, the squadron will have some down time with their families. Constantly deploying and being away from families can be stressful. However, being able to rely on squadron support and bond with coworkers is an experience in itself.

"I'm looking forward to getting to know my squadron mates and continuing to do our real world mission" said Master Sgt. Chad Neubarth, 7th AS operations superintendant. "My family is prepared, but deployment is never easy. My wife is plugged in with the rest of the spouses from our squadron so she's ready as she can be."

Being able to rely on each other is an important part of a deployment. Especially for those Airmen who have never been through an overseas contingency operation. 

"I'm a little bit nervous-kind of excited to see a new country," said Airman First Class Ryan Karcher, 62nd Operation Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment apprentice. "My family had an early Christmas celebration for me. They gave me a video camera to document my experiences."

The 7th AS is replacing the 4th AS, which is scheduled to return the first week of January. 

"It's our turn, that's the bottom line," said Capt. Christopher Stephens, 7th AS mission planning cell chief.    

January 4, 2011 at 8:53am

Airman finds help for disabled Afghan boy

This from Air Force Times: OLYMPIA, Wash. - The father's request was simple, yet desperate.

Could Sean Roehrs, a captain in the Air Force stationed in Afghanistan, help the man's 8-year-old son who had a mental disability fly from war-torn Afghanistan to the United States for medical treatment?

"I said, 'Let me see what I can do,'" Roehrs said.

So began the unlikely journey that brought Khaled a shy, lovable Afghan boy who speaks only a few words, has seizures and needs constant care to Olympia.

"Where there's a will, there's a way," said Roehrs, who grew up in Olympia.

But before Khaled would attend a kindergarten class at Pioneer Elementary School, before he'd receive medical exams that determined that his disability was genetic and couldn't be corrected by surgery, Roehrs contacted people for months about Khaled coming to the United States. Solace for Children, a relief agency based in North Carolina, was a major player in opening the door for Khaled coming here.

To read the complete story, click here.

January 3, 2011 at 11:17am

Air Force doubles manpower for Afghan attacks

This from USA Today: WASHINGTON - The Air Force has more than doubled the number of airmen in Afghanistan who call in airstrikes, as the use of bombs, missiles and strafing runs has spiked to its highest level since the war began.

The Air Force has increased the number of joint terminal attack controllers - the airmen who work with soldiers to coordinate airstrikes - to 134 last year in Afghanistan, up from 53 in 2009, said Maj. Ike Williams, an operations officer at Air Combat Command in Langley, Va.

The increasing reliance on airstrikes and the troops who direct them comes as the U.S. military has raised its troop level in Afghanistan to 100,000, including 30,000 deployed last year.

To read the entire story, click here.

December 8, 2010 at 6:47pm

C-17s deliver tanks to Afghanistan

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- An Air Mobility Command C-17 Globemaster III and its crew delivered the first of 17 M1A1 Abrams tanks to military forces in Afghanistan on Thanksgiving Day, marking the first time U.S.-owned tanks have deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The tanks were requested by Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mills, commander of Afghanistan's Regional Command-Southwest, according to a Department of Defense release. The RC--Southwest region lends itself to armored operations with wide open areas and none of the mountainous terrain that characterizes Regional Command-East and the northern portions of Regional Command-South.

Officials emphasized that the movement of the M1A1s to Afghanistan does not represent an escalation of the conflict there.

"We're conducting full-spectrum combat operations today, we'll be doing it tomorrow, we'll be doing it next month," said Marine Col. Dave Lapan, a Department of Defense spokesperson. "Until the Afghan security forces are ready to take over lead for security ... we will continue to do combat operations to defeat the enemy."

"Whether we use tanks, or infantry on the ground," Colonel Lapan continued, "these are all tactics we use to defeat the enemy."

The term Abrams applies to a family of armored tanks used by U.S. Army and Marine Corps personnel for ground operations. The M1A1 variant includes a 120 mm main gun, carries a crew of four, and weighs approximately 68 tons, according to an Army fact sheet. 

Deploying the tanks is accomplished by a combination of sealift and airlift assets. The tanks and associated equipment are taken by ship for the majority of the trip around the world, and airlifted the last portion of their journey into land-locked Afghanistan by Air Force C-17s.

All of the airlift missions for the deployment are planned, tasked and command-and-controlled by the 618th Air and Space Operations Center's Theater Direct Delivery division at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. As Eighteenth Air Force's hub for global operations, the 618th AOC plans, schedules and directs a fleet of nearly 1,300 mobility aircraft in support of strategic airlift, air refueling, and aeromedical evacuation operations around the world.

The 618th AOC has been the lead for centralized control of AMC airlift, air refueling and aeromedical evacuation operations worldwide since its activation April 1, 1992. That coordination in recent years has included hundreds of thousands of point-to-point flights, called sorties, in support of overseas operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.    

November 22, 2010 at 10:25am

Local soldiers, airmen expect to fight until 2014

This from The News Tribune: American forces likely will keep fighting in Afghanistan through the end of 2014 - three years later than the date President Barack Obama announced when he heralded his war plans last year - under a timeline unfurled at a NATO conference in Lisbon, Portugal, this weekend.

The new date sends a message to soldiers and airmen at Joint Base Lewis-McChord that they can expect to continue their role in a dangerous war zone over the next four years.

But while the shift to 2014 has been discussed widely in the media the past few weeks, it doesn't appear to be triggering much talk among local service members yet.

Those stationed at the base have come to expect nearly continuous overseas assignments since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Many don't see that trend changing despite the ongoing drawdown from Iraq and the proposal to scale back in Afghanistan.

"It's always go," said Capt. Dave Braun, 30, of Spanaway. He's a pilot in the Lewis-McChord-based 62nd Airlift Wing who recently returned from a four-month assignment flying into Afghanistan.

To read the entire story, click here.

October 12, 2010 at 11:02am

Pay mistakes for airmen on combat deployments

This from Air Force Times: An audit by the Department of Defense Inspector General uncovered the pay problems, which could total $8.6 million. A follow-up review by the Air Force confirmed problems but not to the extent identified by the Pentagon. The lost amount, calculated using the findings by the service, adds up to $1.63 million.

The DoD IG found mistakes with more than half - 54 percent - of the pay stubs it checked; the Air Force review found problems with 29 percent.

If you apply the DoD IG findings to the active-duty 65,000 airmen who deployed between Oct. 1, 2007, and Sept. 30, 2008, to U.S. Central Command missions, as many as 35,100 airmen received the wrong pay. Even if you use the service's error rate, 18,850 airmen still had the incorrect amount deposited in their accounts.

To read the entire story, click here.

October 8, 2010 at 11:52am

Not enough JTACs to go around

Air Force Times is reporting that the Air Force is training more NATO troops to call in airstrikes because it can't meet the demand from battlefield commanders without ratcheting up the deployment tempo even more for its own small pool of joint terminal attack controllers.

U.S. Air Forces in Europe expects to train 144 JTACs, twice as many as it did last year, according to the report.

Half of the airmen will be from NATO and coalition countries.

"The total number of JTACs required has always been a mystical, magical number that we have always tried to get our arms around," said Master Sgt. Jay Lemley, chief of standardization and evaluation for JTACs assigned to USAFE. "There never was an answer except, ‘We need more.'"

Repeated deployments for JTACs and the requirements in Afghanistan "have really been a driving factor," Lemley said. "We're in a counterinsurgency fight in Afghanistan. It's not a linear battlefield."

For more on the story, click here.

September 2, 2010 at 9:39am

McChord's 8th Airlift Squadron returns home today

More than 120 Airmen from McChord Field's 8th Airlift Squadron will be greeted by family and friends today after a 120-day deployment in support of Operations ENDURING and IRAQI FREEDOM.

The 8th AS airmen were deployed as the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron to an overseas contingency location in the Middle East.

During their deployment, the C-17 squadron flew 2,789 sorties, equaling more than 7,000 hours, moved more than 37,000 passengers and delivered more than 115 million pounds of combat sustainment cargo for U.S. military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Earlier this month, the 816th EAS participated in Operation EVEREST. They dropped a record-breaking 837 bundles on 22 drop zones with a combined weight of more than 1.1 million pounds of cargo. The record of 837 bundles is the highest number of bundles dropped in a week ever by a C-17 squadron.

"I've really enjoyed watching this team work -- setting a goal, setting the bar high and watching them achieve it," said Lt. Col. Stephen Ritter, 816th EAS commander. "They came in from day one to do the job right and to help everyone do great things. It just goes to show the great things you can achieve when you build a cohesive, tight, professional team."

August 19, 2010 at 2:50pm

Deployed McChord airmen hard at work

Members of the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron deployed to the desert dropped more than 1,192,000 pounds to 22 different drop zones, including fuel, water, food and additional supplies needed by servicemembers on the ground at forward operating bases across the area of responsibility.

The endeavor, called Operation Everest, took place over the course of one week, and was an effort headed by the 816th EAS to "fully exercise the C-17 (Globemaster III) theater drop capability," said Lt. Col. Stephen Ritter, the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron commander.

For more on the mission, click here.

May 26, 2010 at 5:00pm

Journalist flies on air combat mission

ABC News' Martha Raddatz recently became the first journalist to fly aboard an Air Force F-15 fighter jet on a combat mission over Afghanistan.    

Read the story here.

Filed under: U.S. Air Force, Afghanistan,

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