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Air terminal operations center keeps wing rotating

by Tech. Sgt. Gino Mattorano
380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

1/6/2005 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN)  -- Transportation for people and cargo in and out of theater is made possible by a team of transportation specialists at a forward-deployed location here. This is especially apparent during the changeover from one rotation of Airmen to another.

The air terminal operations center comprises several unique functional areas working together to coordinate each aspect of moving people and cargo into and out of the base.

During the current rotation, Airmen of the 380th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron's center processed nearly 1,500 tons of cargo and more than 4,600 passengers on nearly 300 aircraft -- more than double the total of the previous two rotations combined, said Master Sgt. Nathaniel Gagum, the center's superintendent.

"Our ATOC team should have been made up of an equal mix of noncommissioned officers and Airmen, but instead, most of our team members are Airmen," Sergeant Gagum said. "Fortunately, they've done great. These Airmen are go-getters who have stepped up to the plate and done whatever necessary to take care of business."

There are many elements to the center's mission, ranging from loading, unloading and manifesting cargo and equipment, to ensuring that each person and item is kept track of throughout the travel process.

During peak transitions the ATOC Airmen work around the clock to prepare travelers and luggage for departure, and to prepare for the arrival of incoming Airmen.

"We're responsible for accounting for all passengers, as well as their baggage," said Tech. Sgt. David Bartlett, noncommissioned officer in charge of the center. "When a rotator aircraft lands, we have to be ready to unload incoming passengers and baggage, and load the outgoing baggage and process outgoing passengers."

Aircraft are only on the ground for a short period of time, so the ATOC Airmen have to orchestrate each rotation with speed and precision. It took them one hour and 45 minutes to unload and load the first rotator aircraft they processed in September, and the most recent one took them one hour and 15 minutes.

"We have a plan of attack for each rotator that comes through to ensure everything goes smoothly," Sergeant Gagum said. "To date, we haven't had any aircraft delays or lost baggage, and that's a testament to the hard work and team effort these guys displayed throughout the rotation."

At many other deployed locations, passengers are required to remove their own baggage from the aircraft, but Airmen who arrive for duty with the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing have their baggage unloaded for them.

"We don't have the manpower to be able to unload all the baggage ourselves," Sergeant Bartlett said. "Volunteers make (a) baggage detail possible and keep passengers from having to get their own bags from the aircraft."

Throughout the rotation process, the center's Airmen continue to support transient aircraft and host nation operations upon request.

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