Monday, June 14, 2010

TOP STORY >> C-130 deliveries replacing trucks

IN SHORT: Squadron is saving lives with flights instead of road deliveries.

By Amn. Rochelle Sollars
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The C-130s from Little Rock Air Force Base assigned to Iraq have helped replace 20,429 truck convoys in May, setting a record.

They are saving lives by taking thousands of military members off dangerous roads, where improvised-explosive devices are often set by insurgents.

Through the efforts of these airmen, the C-130s are a safer means of transportation for all branches of the military in combat zones.

“Twenty thousand (vehicles) is significant because every vehicle we take off IED-laden roads in Iraq and Afghanistan lowers the risk to soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines on the ground performing convoy duty,” said Col. David Kasberg, 19th Operations Group commander at Little Rock Air Force Base.

“By airlifting cargo and passengers, we also take a target away from the enemy, which undermines their information- operations campaign,” he added.

According to Col. Nathan Allerheiligen, commander of the 777th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, which coordinates the airlifts and airdrops, “It’s the mighty power of the Air Force mobility machine that enables the U.S. to be able to operate in austere locations like Iraq and Afghanistan.”

“The Dragon Warriors hauled over 15,000 passengers and logged nearly 1,000 effective sorties in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom,” said Allerheiligen. “Needless to say, I’m very proud of our operators and our adopted maintainers who have worked so diligently to hack the (mission).”

“The No. 1 hostile threat to lives of soldiers is roadside bombs, improvised explosive devices. Our adversary has learned how to create, hide and detonate sinister devices that can harm our soldiers traveling the roads of Iraq,” said Allerheiligen.

“By reducing the convoys, we reduce the number of vehicles, and thus, precious lives, who are exposed to those dangerous weapons.”

According to Allerheiligen, a typical bus carries about 40 people, without luggage, but a C-130 can carry 80 military personnel with their luggage. A flat-bed truck may carry four to six pallets, which is the same as a C-130’s cargo capacity.

“Thus, every mission is another opportunity to remove several trucks from having to carry stuff on the ground,” he said. “Occasionally, we actually carry the smaller trucks themselves.”

“The teamwork required to make these missions happen is incredible,” Kasberg said. “It really takes the entire (Department of Defense) team, military and civilian, to make every sortie effective.”

“Every training sortie conducted at Little Rock Air Force Base is one more combat airlifter ready to take convoys off the roads,” Kasberg said.

“Combat resupply, whether through airland or airdrop operations, is what we in the air mobility world live for,” said Kasberg. “It isn’t as glamorous as putting bombs on target, but the effect of getting the right cargo and passengers to the right destination on time every time is what enables the U.S. and its coalition partners to be successful.”

“The Air Force is all in. The earliest legacies of air power come from our ability to haul men, material and equipment over vast distances,” said Allerheiligen. “The heritage started through great operations like ‘The Hump’ and the Berlin Airlift.

(The) are continued today through the efforts of airmen who are delivering the goods all over the world, but especially within Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.”