Wednesday, May 19, 2010

86th AW supports AFAFRICA in Flintlock 10

by Staff Sgt. Stefanie Torres, 17th Air Force Public Affairs

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) -- Flintlock 10 is a U.S. Africa Command-sponsored exercise conducted by the Special Operations Command Africa's Joint Special Operations Task Force - Trans Sahara that is scheduled to conclude May 23.

Centered in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, the exercise focuses on military interoperability and capacity-building and involves tactical training conducted in Senegal, Mali, Mauritania and Nigeria. Approximately 1,200 European, African Partner Nation and U.S. participants from 14 nations are involved in military interoperability activities across the Trans-Saharan region during this event, making airlift a priority.

"Flintlock 10 is a multi-national exercise designed to enhance Special Operations Forces capabilities within trans-Saharan partner nations and develop relationships that will be beneficial to all nations in the region," said Maj. Mark Oberson, 37th Airlift Squadron assistant director of operations.

Seventeenth Air Force--Air Forces Africa officials provided coordination and tasked Airmen from the 86th Airlift Wing for the airlift and movement of participants and cargo.

Two C-130J Super Hercules and aircrews from the 86th AW here flew to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, to play a role in personnel movement and enabled the exercise to happen as planned.

"The 130s are making this exercise happen," said Maj. Randle Tankersley, from the 17th AF plans and operations directorate. "If we were without them, the exercise would be sequestered and not interrelated. Now with the transfer and flying capability, participants can travel from one country to another to train."

"We (17th AF officials) requested the forces from the 86th AW and they delivered," Major Tankersley said. "We are helping out with the deployment of different countries and getting them to their different locations. This is a big task because of the number of different countries participating."

Participation in the exercise marks the first deployment for U.S. Europe Command's C-130Js, Major Tankersley said.

"The 86th Air Wing is doing a lot of heavy lifting by moving the SOF (members) and equipment in and out of the exercise area and keeping the operation on schedule," Major Oberson said. "Flintlock (10) is our first opportunity to employ the aircraft in an austere environment for significant durations. This is exactly what the C-130J was built to do and has proven it's up to the task day after day thanks to the monumental efforts by members from the 86th Maintenance Group and 68th Operations Group to keep the planes moving."