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Airmen help keep troops off roads

by Army Spc. Kyndal Hernandez
45th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs

1/19/2007 - FORWARD OPERATING BASE Q-WEST, Iraq (AFNEWS) -- The Air Force detachment at Q-West has moved more than 1,100 cargo pallets by air since arriving in September, taking about 333 convoy trucks off the road and keeping 778 Soldiers out of harm's way.

Detachment 2 of the 332nd Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron deployed to Iraq faced with a specific mission to reduce the number of supply convoys. It has done that successfully, said Maj. Lametra Slade, detachment commander.

"We deployed with a mission to mitigate convoys. The Army traditionally moves cargo by ground and that puts a lot of Soldiers' lives in danger," Major Slade said. "We are here to alleviate that and send as much cargo as we can by air to keep these Soldiers off the road."

Q-West supports three other forward operating bases in Northern Iraq with bottled water, and the 332nd started an initiative to reduce water-sustainment convoys. This initiative of moving water by air takes about 76 vehicles and 178 Soldiers off the roads in Iraq each week.

"The key to us being successful in our mission is educating the Army on the capabilities that we have in the Air Force," Major Slade said. "We are working very closely with our counterparts to educate them on our transportation systems. My counterparts in the 142nd Movement Control Team and the 45th Sustainment Brigade have been very supportive in trying to push the units to send their cargo by air instead of ground."

Master Sgt. Ferdinand Oben, operations superintendent of Detachment 2, said, "It makes me feel satisfied when we receive cargo from the Army because we are contributing in mitigating convoys. Ultimately, the more cargo we airlift, the more Soldiers we keep off the roads."

"When I talk to some of the Soldiers about our mission here, they seem to really appreciate the job that we are doing for them," said Senior Airman Sonny Goot. "It makes me feel like we are making a difference out here. Hopefully, we will start to receive more cargo from the Army so that we can maximize our airlift capability to the fullest."

Major Slade said they are always looking for opportunities to reduce the number of convoys.

"Right now we are researching the possibility of mitigating mail convoys," the major said. "There are a few issues with mail, but I hope we can work them out. We feel very passionate about what we are doing to keep Soldiers safe."

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