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Airmen 'build bridge' for new mission at Spangdahlem

by Senior Airman Eydie Sakura
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

8/2/2005 - SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany (AFPN)  -- About a dozen Airmen with the 817th Contingency Response Group from McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., arrived here July 28 to support the Rhein-Main Transition Program.

The five-year Rhein-Main Transition Program, scheduled for completion in December, calls for closing down Rhein-Main Air Base, transitioning its cargo and passenger service mission to Ramstein Air Base, and beefing up Spangdahlem Air Base as the overflow base for Ramstein

The 817th will support the program by providing temporary airlift command and control capability for the incoming 726th Air Mobility Squadron here. It will help transition the fighter wing to coexist with a fully functioning Air Mobility Command unit here to support increased air traffic.

“CRGs are the Air Force’s global reach crisis response force,” said Maj. Scott Sveinsson, the 721st Air Mobility Operations Group liaison officer. “They are geared toward deploying trained and equipped Airmen with serviceable equipment to function as the command and control, initial airfield operations and initial operating support of an AMC CRG.”

Typically, the groups are a multiskilled expeditionary unit that deploys to various locations to open up an air base. That air base could be anywhere from the middle of the desert with nothing there, to a fully functioning base such as Spangdahlem.

“We’re usually the first guys in the door to open up the air base to get it prepared for the follow-on mission support group,” said Col. Dean Nelson, 817th CRG commander. “Once everything is in place, squared away and everyone’s on the same sheet of music, we leave and head to our next project.”

The time frame for transition is currently open-ended, Colonel Nelson said. But wing and group leaders are geared toward the end of October for the airlift mission to be fully integrated into the wing mission here.

“With the new arrivals, we currently have about 20 people here, and that’s enough to handle one airplane a week,” the colonel said. “At the end of August, we’ll have an additional 20 people arriving -- basically doubling our workforce -- and that will allow us to operate two airplanes at a time with four airplanes a day during Spangdahlem operating hours.”

The ability to handle airflow through the creation of a crawl, walk and run mentality is key for a smooth transition, and creating a livable and workable environment for Airmen is what the CRG is all about, said Maj. Scott Deitz, 817th CRG deployed operations officer.

“Until the 726th (AMS) is ready to handle the mission unassisted, we’re here (for them),” he said. (Courtesy of U.S. Air Forces in Europe News Service)

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