Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Texas Air Force Reserve Wing help soldiers complete multi-modal move

Soldiers from Bravo Company, 601st Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, push a Chinook helicopter off a C-5M Super Galaxy at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 24, 2013. Using C-5A Galaxys from the 433rd Airlift Wing at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, and Super Galaxys from Dover Air Force Base, Del., Airmen moved more than 120 helicopters as part of a multi-modal mission to swap out equipment as part of the rotation between the 1st and 3rd CABs here. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Brian Maguire)

by Capt. Brian Maguire,  451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan  -- Airmen here recently finished conducting the air leg of a multi-modal move for an equipment swap out between the 1st and 3rd Combat Aviation Brigades.

Nearly four months of planning paid off as C-5A Galaxys and C-5M Super Galaxys transported more than 120 helicopters between Kandahar and western Europe.

"We have to plan for different contingencies with the aircraft mission," said Lt. Col. James Kwasny, the C-5 stage deployed commander from the 433rd Airlift Wing at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. "By looking at the variables we can plan how to get back in the flow of moving aircraft."

One aspect of the mission planning was made easier by the fact that almost all of the C-5A aircrews came from the same unit, the Air Force Reserve Command's 433rd AW.

"It significantly helped that almost all the aircrews were from the same unit. We understand what their needs are and how we all operate so we can see through any issues that may arise," Kwasny, a native of Keller, Texas, said. "Plus, almost all of the aircrew are traditional reservists, so they can plan their time here around their regular jobs."

The deployed operators worked with the maintainers of Detachment 1, 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron, and other organizations at Kandahar Airfield to move the equipment for the CAB.

"The Airmen maintaining the C-5s are a group of highly motivated individuals with an intense desire to push the mission," said Capt. Rob Cross, 8th EAMS Aircraft Maintenance Officer deployed from Joint Base Charleston, S.C. "They are naturally hard-chargers and worked all maintenance issues aggressively in order to get the aircraft airborne under the auspices of safe, compliant operations."

The intense planning meant that everyone involved was ready for nearly any challenge that arose during the three-week movement, especially when working on 40-year-old aircraft.

"The C-5 is able to accomplish jaw-dropping feats in the air mobility realm, but it is a legacy aircraft that has not only unique capabilities, but unique challenges as well," Cross, a native of Natchez, Miss. "All stakeholders had to be ready to execute secondary and tertiary plans to ensure the success of this operation."

The term multi-modal mission refers to using different methods of transportation to move equipment and supplies.

"To move the helicopters, they went on a train to the port, and then on a ship to Western Europe, where we'd transload them onto our aircraft," Kwasny said. "From there we'd fly them straight to Kandahar to the Army, so they can disperse them where they need to go. It was great to see the whole system come together to support the customer, the Army."
In the end, the air leg of the movement was a success because of the advanced planning and teamwork, Cross said.

"A lot of advance planning made any obstacles we encountered minor and manageable," said Cross. "A solid crew of operators and maintainers backed by a solid supporting cast from Team KAF made the whole operation a grand slam."