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Expeditionary wing supports war efforts in many ways

by Senior Airman Erik Hofmeyer
379th Air Expeditionary Wing

3/7/2007 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNEWS)  -- The 379th Air Expeditionary Wing directly supports the war on terrorism on many different levels. Combat sorties are flown daily, and multitudes of U.S. servicemembers and coalition partners, equipment and supplies are transported in and out of theater.

Other missions are not quite as visible. Many Airmen directly support servicemembers uprange through unique and tangible avenues.

The following missions are a few examples of the wide support provided by Airmen at the 379th AEW.

Testing and analysis

The 379th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron Aerospace Fuels Laboratory is the only one in the area of responsiblity, or AOR. The lab provides quality surveillance and field technical assistance on various kinds of aviation fuels, aviator's breathing oxygen and compressed breathing air used by fire and emergency services personnel.

A three-person team composed of one chemist and two technicians perform quality control testing of approximately 150 air and fuel samples each month, said Capt. Bryan Best, 379th ELRS Aerospace Fuels Laboratory chief.

Air Force expeditionary wings and forward operating bases periodically send representative samples to the aerospace fuels lab to test for specification conformance, purity and contaminant levels. The in-house AOR capability allows for decreased transit time and quick turnaround for fuel and air samples, ensuring that the products used in the field are safe to use.

"We give it the thumbs up or thumbs down," Captain Best said.

The ABO and CBA are analyzed using infrared spectroscopy and an oxygen purity meter. The laboratory is also capable of analyzing seven different types of fuels using 20 different tests, depending on the fuel and reason for submission, Captain Best said.

"Ensuring that flight critical products meet satisfactory standards for warfighter and emergency response personnel is critical to mission success," he said.

Precise measurement

Every piece of equipment used to measure something has to be serviced to ensure it works within the parameters established by manufacturers.

In the AOR, the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron's Test, Measurement and Diagnostic Equipment Flight performs all precise quantitative measurements covering the entire spectrum of measurements - time, distance and all measurements associated with mechanics and electronics.

There are about 200 customers in the AOR who send in equipment for servicing, and more than 11,000 individual items that we support, said Senior Master Sgt. Laurie Newman the 379th EMXS TMDE flight chief.

The flight services everything from torque wrenches, various scales, or something as complicated as a missile test set that establishes a line of sight for a laser guided missile, said Tech. Sgt. Terry Derise, the 379th EMXS TMDE laboratory chief.

Each piece of measuring equipment both here and uprange has a unique interval between the scheduled servicing by technicians skilled in electronic theory and the science of weights and measures.

For example, a dial caliper is a tool commonly used by aircraft or vehicle mechanics to make length or width measurements on parts such as the diameter of bolts. Dirt, dust and grease are unavoidable in expeditionary environments, and can slightly alter the caliper's measurements. Correct measurements ensure that maintainers can provide safe, reliable and effective aircraft and munitions for every combat sortie or supply shipment flown.

Saving lives

The 379th Expeditionary Medical Group Blood Transshipment Center is the focal point in the AOR for getting blood to where it is needed, said Capt. Rob Curtis, the 379th EMDG BTC officer in charge.

"Every unit of (stored) blood coming into the AOR comes here first," Captain Curtis said.

The center receives a consolidated blood shipment from military blood donor centers in the United States, checks it in, and ensures forward blood supply units have the blood needed to care for wounded servicemembers and civilians.

The five-person team manages the inventory of blood. Captain Curtis works with the joint blood program officer at the Combined Air Operations Center to look at the day-to-day blood usage to gauge the broad picture of needs throughout the AOR.

The team then coordinates for blood shipment to the two primary blood supply units at Balad Air Base, Iraq, and Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. From there, it is filtered out to forward deployed treatment facilities. The center also supports Horn of Africa missions, one Navy ship and other geographically separated missions.

Hazard elimination

The 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight stays ready to respond to unexploded ordnance on and off base, but also serves an additional role supporting the EOD technicians in Iraq and Afghanistan saving lives on a daily basis.

The flight also serves as an inventory hub that sends and receives equipment to and from forward deployed technicians.

"We can be described as the 'pit crew' for EOD operations in the AOR," said Senior Airman Matthew Abbott, 379th ECES EOD journeyman.

Technicians inventory, test and configure new technology for use before shipment to EOD personnel in the field. The flight also receives, stores and maintains equipment used to disarm unexploded ordnance. For example, parts are stored for the F6 response robots, which are used to inspect or render safe improvised explosive devices.

"Almost every piece of EOD equipment going in or out of the AOR comes through here," Airman Abbott said.

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