Aug 28, 2023
The 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, conquered a logistical challenge by building relationships with U.S. Navy counterparts.
Typically, the 8th EAMS would need to procure enough cargo to generate airlift operations on aircraft such as the C-17A Globemaster III. However, by partnering with the U.S. Navy’s Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 15 Detachment IIA, they were able to increase response times in delivering supplies to service members around the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
Operating out of Bahrain International Airport, HM-15 DETIIA is a permanent detachment that houses MH-53E Sea Dragon aircraft. Their mission is to provide airborne mine countermeasures, the process of detecting and neutralizing modern mines, in the USCENTCOM AOR.
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Though HM-15 DETIIA performs their mission out of Bahrain, their local training opportunities are limited due to airspace restrictions. As such, the unit regularly flies sorties to AUAB’s airspace to practice flying patterns and familiarization training.
“AUAB is the ideal training environment for our crews, providing precision instrument approaches, huge runways, and a helipad for use during day and night sorties,” said Lt. Commander Keith Schmitt, HM-15 DETIIA officer in charge.
The 8th EAMS took this opportunity to align their priorities with HM-15’s training requirements and coordinated an airlift operation to deliver $240,000 worth of troops-in-contact ground support equipment for a U.S. Army unit in support of theater operations. Additionally, they delivered $28,000 in support parts for several weapons systems for U.S. Marine Corps units in support of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. This joint effort effectively saves $34,000 per mission.
“This partnership unified multiple branches of the Department of Defense,” said Master Sgt. Joshua Thomas, 8th EAMS load planning noncommissioned officer in charge. “A relationship was forged between the 8th EAMS and HM-15 DETIIA. The result of eight days of coordinating and planning paid off with the creation of a direct air channel for cargo movement from AUAB to Bahrain International Airport utilizing combat air power.”
The coordinated effort began at the end of June, and since then, the teams have successfully accelerated the movement of $1.8 million of ground support equipment for Operation SPARTAN SHIELD. Not only has this new-formed bond between units saved on transport costs, but the operation has provided invaluable hands-on experience for the MH-53E aircrews.
“Our flight crews practice loading common aviation equipment to earn logistics-related qualifications,” Schmitt said. “Loading and configuring the aircraft with unfamiliar cargo prepares them for vertical onboard delivery missions to Navy ships that frequent the Arabian Gulf, which often require flying unanticipated cargo back to the beach.”
Through innovative solutions, all branches of the DoD can benefit operationally, impacting multiple combatant commands’ AORs.
“By working with the U.S. Navy we are utilizing their routine training missions to solve the Air Mobility Division’s transportation allocation outside of the USCENTCOM theater, and into the Africa Command theater of operations,” Thomas said. “It allows us to access a broader range of capabilities and resources beyond what the Air Force can provide. This relationship can lead to enhanced operational effectiveness and the ability to handle a wider variety of missions. It means we are strategically aligning joint operations with the overarching objectives and goals of national security.”
One of the priorities of the National Defense Strategy is to build a resilient joint force, and these airlift operations are aimed at that very priority.
“Here at the 8th EAMS, we are accomplishing that goal, and together USCENTCOM and NAVCENT are generating combat air power without spending an extra cent while moving cargo for all six of the U.S. military branches and DoD partners,” Thomas said.