AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar – In support of Coalition partners and the fight against Da’esh, U.S. Air Forces Central Command’s Air Mobility Division Airmen recently enabled the largest and most rapid airfield repair operations in recent U.S. military history -- the restoration of the recently recaptured Qayyarah-West airfield in northern Iraq’s Ninawa Province.
The team planned and oversaw more than 55 sorties which delivered 2.2 million pounds of cargo and machinery needed to repair the flightline and maintain operations. Q-West now serves as a logistical hub and strategic launching pad for resupplying the frontlines in the offensive to recapture Mosul from Da’esh fighters.
As one of five divisions within the Combined Air and Space Operations Center, AMD acts as the heart of U.S. air transportation by planning, coordinating and executing the air mobility mission throughout the AFCENT region of responsibility. Furthermore, the AMD’s efforts enable the CAOC to meet its mission as the primary command and control facility for Coalition air campaigns in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa, moving people, munitions, materials and equipment.
“We coordinate, plan, and oversee the execution and transportation of personnel, cargo, ammunition and anything else our users need,” said Capt. Haley Puffenbarger, AMD assistant director of operations. “Anything you expect to see at your forward deployed location that arrives via airlift, we’re the ones who ensure it’s delivered.”
The team encompasses enlisted and officer mobility experts from multiple career fields to oversee both airdrop and conventional air-land operations. The team works to ensure deployed service members can focus on their own missions.
“We allow other warfighters the ability to concentrate on what they need to do,” said Puffenbarger. “Part of our job is to ensure they don’t have to spend their time, effort and resources wondering if their equipment and supplies will be delivered.”
In recent months, the AMD team worked to meet the increasing demands in the amount of cargo and number of passengers requiring movement across the area of responsibility.
In October alone, the team planned and executed approximately 1,800 sorties, airlifting more than 30 million pounds of cargo and 17,000 passengers. This 26 percent increase from the same period in 2015 marks the equivalent of delivering a full C-130 Hercules every 30 minutes the entire month. The AMD staff accomplished this while maintaining a 97 percent on-time delivery rate.
“Without AMD’s coordination and the air transportation, we couldn’t help support our U.S. and Coalition partners,” said Puffenbarger. “This directly impacts the U.S. and Coalition efforts and their ability to deny Da'esh operations and empower the Iraqis to take back their country.”
Puffenbarger said there are a lot of factors that affect the on-time delivery of requirements, many of which cannot be predicted or controlled.
“Ideally, mobility airlift is planned efficiently and executed smoothly,” said Puffenbarger. “We work hard every day so it appears effortless to others. We pride ourselves on timely delivery and preventing logistical problems that could significantly affect the AFCENT mission.”
The team plans to continue its trend of excellence and is currently working to streamline its processes and consolidate deliveries of cargo and people by utilizing unused space and putting people on cargo shipments already scheduled for departure.
Puffenbarger said while she and her team will eventually rotate back to their home stations, she’s confident the flow of transportation and pursuit of improvement will continue.
“We’re constantly working to learn new ways to do our job better and more efficiently,” she said. “We’re here to make sure the mission happens and that’s going to continue as long as mobility airlift is needed.”