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July 22, 2011 at 12:54pm

Rodeo is serious business for 62nd APS team

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- Mobility Airmen provide rapid, flexible and responsive global air mobility every day of the year. During Rodeo, however, their ability to provide these capabilities are pushed even further. Teams train for months, refining their skills in the pursuit of perfection.

According to the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron Rodeo Team, this competition is taken very seriously.

"Participating in Rodeo is a big undertaking for our Airmen," said Master Sgt. Robert Code, 62nd APS Rodeo Team chief. "Our leadership could not be more focused on this competition, and our team could not be more dedicated."

The team consists of a team chief and seven members. The members were selected at the end of April after a series of challenging tryouts which included both physical ability and job knowledge.

"We had them complete a three-mile run, push-ups and sit-ups," said Sergeant Code. "We also tested their job knowledge and put them through a board which required them to explain why they wanted to be a part of the Rodeo team."

After the five primary and two alternate team members were selected, training began right away.

"We definitely wasted no time," said Sergeant Code. "I wanted them to be a great team overall, both physically and mentally."

The team started off by running an average of 20 miles per week, with strength building workouts in between. Since the beginning of May, they have added a spin class twice a week and swimming to their routine.

"We train as hard as we want to win," said Staff Sgt. Jason Caro, 62nd APS Rodeo team captain. "It takes a toll on your body eventually. Sometimes you just want to quit, but it's all worth it once you look back and see how far you've come."

Along with a physically demanding training routine, the team focused on job knowledge as well.

"Training for the 2009 Rodeo was different," said Sergeant Caro, who was also on the 2009 Rodeo team. "I feel like what we lack in experience this year, we make up for in physical ability and strength. We're definitely training to know our job as much as possible."

Daily training included driving forklifts and K-loaders, cargo build-up, in-transit visibility and joint inspections. During Rodeo, the team will compete in events such as engine running on and offload, challenge course, 10k forklift driving and pallet buildup competitions.

"During our training, my team has definitely become more proficient," said Sergeant Code. "You can't prepare for every single scenario. Who knows what might pop up, but we've done everything possible to be successful in these events."

In 2005, the 62nd APS won Best Aerial Port Squadron. In 2009, they came back with a few individual awards. According to this year's team, they are aiming to win.

"We've come very far and worked very hard to prepare ourselves," said Sergeant Caro. "We're ready to win."

July 19, 2011 at 5:21pm

McChord to host aeromedical evac conference

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (AFNS) -- Hundreds of aeromedical evacuation professionals will gather here July 20 to 21 for the first, U.S.-led international symposium on in-flight medical care.

The International Aeromedical Evacuation/En Route Care Conference features speakers from a variety of countries sharing their stories, advice and lessons learned with hundreds of fellow doctors, nurses, paramedics and medical specialists. Officials expect representatives from 28 nations to attend the event.

"Different countries call it different things, so we wanted an all-encompassing get-together for anyone who provides any level of medical care in an aerial transportation role," explained Col. Beverly Johnson, the Air Mobility Command chief of aeromedical evacuation at the command surgeon general's office. "What's most important is that we all have the opportunity to share with each other information about our respective capabilities. If we're all aware of we can each do, it's easier to come together and work quickly, effectively and seamlessly in a contingency situation.

"Really, it's all about how we can work together to save lives," she added.

The colonel played an instrumental role in creating the plan for evacuating Sailors and Marines after the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in October 2000. A conference like this, she said, would have been especially beneficial back then.

"When nations partner together before an emergency, it becomes a great deal easier to operate during an emergency," Johnson said. "It becomes easier to understand each other, easier to execute the mission and builds confidence among allies. And that's what this conference is all about."

Gen. Raymond E. Johns Jr., the AMC commander, will be the keynote speaker for the event. In addition, experts from around the Air Force as well as Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Jordan and New Zealand will address the group on a variety of subjects. Retired Airmen and civilians will also speak to the group.

"I'd like to see people find common ground and understanding when it comes to the aeromedical evacuation mission," Johnson said. "We all have similar challenges and resource constraints, so it's important to find ways to collaborate and help each other. This is especially true when it comes to teaching nations how to build their own AE capability, like in Iraq and Afghanistan."

The AE mission, however, isn't just restricted to wartime use, the colonel pointed out.

"That's one of the other things we want to show some of our international partners," she said. "We had a lot of success working with other countries after the volcano eruption in Iceland and in the wake of the earthquakes in Japan. There are a lot of lessons we all can learn from each other."

Several members of the South Korean air force are attending the conference as observers to learn how other countries perform their aeromedical evacuation missions.

"In Korea, we have limited experience with AE," said Maj. Kyungpil Choi, a South Korean air force flight surgeon. "I'm hoping to learn how other countries train and construct their teams and how they manage their transportation systems. We're pretty excited about it all."

The conference coincides with the lead-up to the 2011 Air Mobility Rodeo, a biennial international competition that focuses on mission readiness, featuring airdrops, aerial refueling and other events that showcase the skills of mobility crews from around the world.

July 19, 2011 at 3:49pm

McChord teams get fired up for Rodeo

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- The tents are built, the signs are hung, and with Rainier Ranch construction almost complete, the combined 62nd Airlift Wing and 627th Air Base Group RODEO team is ready for action.

"One of the things we might forget about during RODEO is that we are not only a host, but a competitor as well," said Col. R. Wyn Elder, 62nd AW commander, at a team introduction on July 8. "And our team is ready to win!"

The Air Force held its first RODEO in 1956 to showcase the reliability and capability of cargo planes. The bi-annual competition has grown to encompass all aspects of Air Mobility Command, including aerial port, aeromedical evacuation, maintenance, security forces, and for the first time, financial management.

"We've been practicing Self-Aid and Buddy Care, running through financial scenarios and even some M-16 and M-9 training," said Tech. Sgt. Kerry Robinson, financial management team chief. "Our team is more than ready!"

Each team prepares for different RODEO competitions. The financial management team will compete in performance-based scenarios, small arms and a fitness course. The aerial port team will compete in engine running on and offload, challenge course, 10k forklift driving and pallet buildup competitions. The aircrew team will compete in the airdrop, air refueling and joint airdrop inspection events.

"To prepare for RODEO, we did some off-station training last weekend, which included various low-level flying drills and air drops," said Maj. Scott Huffstetler, aircrew team chief. "My team is prepared and we're looking forward to the competition."

The maintenance team will be competing in daily pre- and post-flight observations and refueling events. The security forces team will be competing in combat tactics, combat weapons and combat endurance events.

"This team represents you and what this installation does every single day," said Colonel Elder. "Thank you for all the hard work you've done while preparing for this event."

The 2009 wing RODEO team brought home five awards. They included the best post-flight team, best aerial port challenge course team, best C-17 Globemaster III team, best airdrop team and, the competition's top award, best air mobility wing. This year, the teams hope to build on those accomplishments and take the lessons they've learned back to hone their skills.

"We are so proud of you," said Colonel Elder to the team at the end of the introductions. "We look forward to bringing home those trophies."

July 15, 2011 at 1:39pm

AF officials look to reduce strategic airlift inventory

WASHINGTON  -- Combatant and major command officials provided testimony to members of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower to propose a reduction of strategic airlift aircraft numbers in a session here July 13. 

Gen. Raymond Johns, the Air Mobility Command commander, and Gen. Duncan McNabb, the U. S. Transportation Command commander, provided the committee with information supporting an Air Force request to lower the aircraft inventory requirement of 316 C-17 Globemaster III, C-5A Galaxy and C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft to a minimum of 301 strategic airlift aircraft.

"AMC is charged with maintaining our strategic airlift fleet and ensuring it has the capability and capacity required by United States Transportation Command and the geographic combatant commander's," Johns said. 

He added that AMC officials are "keenly aware" of the financial difficulties facing the nation and the command's goal is to fulfill mission requirements in a fiscally responsible manner. 

The retirement of a portion of older C-5A aircraft would not diminish Air Force airlift capability and potentially save $1.2 billion in taxpayer dollars in future years defense planning, Johns said. 

"Our ability to manage the strategic airlift over the coming years will enable us to be more fiscally responsible to our nation," McNabb added. 

He said the reduction of aircraft would not hinder USTRANSCOM ability to support combatant commanders around the globe. 

The requirement to maintain a bottom limit of 316 aircraft came from the Mobility Requirements Study completed in 2001. With changing requirements and an additional 40 more C-17's in the inventory than anticipated when that study was completed, Johns said, the exact mix of aircraft used in that study is less critical than the mission capability of the newer C-17 airframe. 

McNabb agreed. 

"As more capable aircraft like the C-17 and the C-5M enter the inventory, requirements can be maintained with fewer aircraft. The 316 strategic airlift floor requires us to keep unneeded, the less capable C-5A in the inventory."

McNabb added the fiscal savings are important but not as important as taking care of the Airmen who fly and maintain the aircraft and the use of manpower is absolutely critical to mission success.

"I need to be able to put my best people on my best assets," McNabb said. 

"Reducing the fleet would reduce the workload on our Airmen," Johns added. 

Johns said there is no reason for the Air Force to maintain a capability that is not needed and the ultimate goal of both AMC and USTRANSCOM is to maintain the best streamlined, economically sound fleet possible.    

May 13, 2011 at 12:27pm

Airdrop levels in deployed areas reach 25 million pounds

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- In 2010, an additional 30,000 U.S. forces poured into Afghanistan as part of a "surge" to further stabilize the area. As a result, statistics show, that level of forces may also be the leading reason why airdrop levels in 2011 are averaging around 6.25 million pounds dropped a month.

Through the first four months of 2011, statistics tracked by the Air Forces Central's Combined Air Operations Center in Southwest Asia show there were more than 25 million pounds of cargo airdropped for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. That figure nearly matches all the airdrop totals from 2006 to 2008 in the same region.

The current annual record for airdrops is 60.4 million pounds dropped from 2010. Records aside, mobility Airmen are focused on meeting the needs of the warfighters on the ground.

"We're flying round-the-clock missions, mostly air-land and to and from lots of little austere Army air fields throughout the country," said Capt. Andrew Thomas, 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron C-130 Hercules pilot at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, in a January 2011 AFCENT news report by combat correspondent Tech. Sgt. Stacia Zachary. "We're also doing airdrops here (at a rate) of about one to two drops per day."

The C-130 Hercules isn't the only Air Mobility Command-style airframe supporting deployed airdrop operations. The C-17 Globemaster III is also a part of the effort. In deployed locations, C-130s and C-17s are a part of expeditionary airlift squadrons at numerous bases throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

Both airframes use a variety of ways to deliver the airdrop cargo. For example, since March 2010, C-130s perform "low-cost, low altitude," or LCLA, airdrops where they airdrop bundles weighing 80 to 500 pounds with pre-packed expendable parachutes in groups of up to four bundles per pass. The drops, reports show, are termed "low-cost" to reflect the relative expense of the expendable parachutes. "Low-altitude" describes to the relative height from which bundles are released from the aircraft.

There's also the Joint Precision Airdrop System, or JPADS, that guides airdrop bundles to their drop zones using the Global Positioning System technology, and the Improved Container Delivery System, or ICDS, that allows for improved precision by factoring in the altitude, wind speed, wind direction, terrain and other circumstances that might affect the drop.

Also, for example, a C-17 Globemaster III can carry up to 40 CDS bundles for a combat airdrop mission. Each of those bundles are often built by U.S. Army parachute riggers who jointly work with the Air Force airlift community to get them delivered to ground troops in remote regions of Afghanistan.

If statistics continue at the current average of 6.25 million pounds per month, 2011 will be a new record year with more than 75 million pounds airdropped.    

January 20, 2011 at 9:12am

Afghanistan airdrop levels set record in 2010

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS) -- Mobility Airmen supporting operations in Afghanistan airdropped 60.4 million pounds of cargo airdropped throughout the country, setting a record.

In all, the 60.4 million pounds is nearly twice the previous record year of 2009, where just over 32.2 million pounds of cargo was airdropped, Air Forces Central statistics show.

Experts attribute the increase to the surge of an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan between December 2009 and August 2010. In those nine months, AFCENT stats confirmed more than 40 million pounds of cargo were airdropped. 

Throughout Afghanistan, the mountainous areas, remote operating locations and limited infrastructure have made the need for airdrops a necessity. That necessity has grown with more troops on the ground. According to a Jan. 12 Department of Defense news report, "numbers of U.S. troops and civilians, allied trainers and combat forces, Afghan army and police trainees all increased" in Afghanistan by more than 100,000 in 2010, compared to previous years. 

Since 2006, the annual amount of airdrops has nearly doubled each year. According to the AFCENT statistics released Jan. 19, the amount of airdrop poundage in Afghanistan over the past five years are 3.5 million in 2006, 8.12 million in 2007, 16.57 million in 2008, 32.26 million in 2009 and 60.4 million in 2010.

"These airdrops are critical to sustaining ground forces at austere locations where other means of re supply aren't feasible," said Col. David Almand, who served as director of the Combined Air and Space Operations Center's Air Mobility Division in 2010. "This continued sustainment of our warfighting forces is key to counter insurgency operations, which require persistent presence and logistics." 

The mobility Airmen assigned to support those airdrops missions have said they are proud to be able to directly support those "boots on the ground" with the supplies they need, no matter where in Afghanistan they are operating.

"It's very humbling to have such an impact on the war effort," said Staff Sgt. T.J. Grover, a C-130J loadmaster deployed with the 772nd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. "Especially when you hear about people on the ground who have close to nothing, and we make their day if we even fly in something that's bare-minimum, but it's still a step above what they had. These guys at forward operating bases aren't getting stuff because they want it; they get it because they need it."    

January 10, 2011 at 12:35pm

McChord among bases continuing to test alternative jet fuel

This from Air Force Times: An Air Force test to see how military cargo planes perform using commercial jet fuel is going so well, the test has been extended into a second year and will expand to fighters.

The Air Force wants to learn what happens when planes use commercial "Jet A" fuel instead of the Air Force's specialized fuel, "JP-8." If the Air Force switches worldwide to Jet A, the service hopes it will save about $40 million annually.

As of December, the Air Force had pumped 140 million gallons of Jet A - about 6 percent of the service's annual fuel consumption - into planes flying out of four bases: Dover Air Force Base, Del.; Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark.; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; and Minneapolis-St. Paul Air National Guard Station, Minn.

Air and ground crews reported no problems from Jet A, said Andre Kok, a spokesman for the Air Staff's mission support directorate at the Pentagon.

The test continues into 2011, with the goal of adding six bases by the summer and including fighters on the list of planes using Jet A. The bases have not been selected, Kok said.

January 6, 2011 at 3:55pm

4th Airlift Squadron returns home

MCCHORD FIELD, JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - More than 120 Airmen from the 4th Airlift Squadron returned Thursday after a 120-day deployment in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, New Dawn and Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.

The 4th AS Airmen were deployed as the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron to an overseas contingency location in the Middle East.

"Our deployment was a success as a result of the hard work, professionalism and safety-focus of many, including that of our sister squadrons," said Lt. Col. Ira Cline, 816th EAS commander. "We were fortunate to be a part of wide variety of missions including the delivery of M1A1 Abrams tanks into Afghanistan, life-saving aeromedical evacuations, transporting several distinguished visitors including the Secretary of Defense, airdropping more than 16 million pounds of CDS (container delivery system) bundles to remote forward operating bases and flying media and Boeing representatives on the C-17 Globemaster III's two-millionth flight hour. The entire team, top to bottom, simply did an outstanding job. I'm really proud of this group of Airmen."

During their deployment, the C-17 squadron flew 2,204 sorties, equaling more than 12,900 hours, moving more than 48,000 passengers and delivering more than 91.4 million pounds of combat sustainment cargo for U.S. military forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and operations in East Africa.

More on this story in the Jan. 13 edition of The Northwest Airlifter.

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 3, 2011 at 10:58am

Family, friends welcome 4th Airlift Squadron home

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - More than 120 Airmen from McChord Field's 4th Airlift Squadron will be greeted by family and friends here Wednesday, Jan. 5, after a 120-day deployment in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Operation New Dawn and Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.

The 4th 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 2,204 sorties, equaling more than 12,900 hours, moving more than 48,000passengers and delivering more than 91.4 million pounds of combat sustainment cargo for U.S. military forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and operations in East Africa.

With the help of the 816th EAS, the C-17 Globemaster III celebrated its two-millionth flight hour this month. Although Air Mobility Command officials estimate the international C-17 fleet passed the milestone on Dec. 14, the achievement was commemorated on a Dec. 10 airdrop mission out of Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

"Our deployment was a success as a result of the hard work, professionalism and safety-focus of many, including that of our sister squadrons," said Lt. Col. Ira Cline, 816th EAS commander. "We were fortunate to be a part of wide variety of missions including the delivery of M1A1 Abrams tanks into Afghanistan, life-saving aeromedical evacuations, transporting several distinguished visitors including the Secretary of Defense, airdropping more than 16 million pounds of CDS (container delivery system) bundles to remote forward operating bases and flying media and Boeing representatives on the C-17 Globemaster III's two-millionth flight hour. The entire team, top to bottom, simply did an outstanding job.  I'm really proud of this group of Airmen."

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