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CENTAF leaders visit Airmen at nontraditional places

by Staff Sgt. Ian Carrier
386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

4/23/2007 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNEWS) -- The commander and command chief for U.S. Central Command Air Forces made a round-robin tour of locations April 20 in Southwest Asia where Airmen are performing duties never done before in places where you normally don't find Air Force members.

Lt. Gen. Gary L. North and Command Master Sgt. Richard T. Small visited the 586th Expeditionary Mission Support Group, and the 70th and 424th Medium Truck Detachments.

The Airmen of the truck detachments run convoys daily through some of the most hazardous parts of the CENTCOM area of responsibility, providing a steady stream of much needed supplies. This is a mission that would normally fall to Soldiers, but due to the complexity and ever-changing face of the modern battlefield, the Airmen have stepped in to support this role.

"Here we have young staffs and techs taking convoys the equivalent distance of Key West to Bangor, Maine," General North said. "Any second of their day they can be shot at, they could be hit with an IED or faced with a mechanical failure."

The general and command chief lauded the members of the 586th for their bravery, professionalism and ability to adapt in the face of adversity.

The next stop on the tour was Camp Bucca, Iraq, to meet with Airmen with the 586th and 886th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadrons. Camp Bucca is an Army base that is home to a Theater Internment Facility, a facility manned and guarded by Airmen of the 886th ESFS.

The 586th ESFS mission involves providing force protection, running presence patrols, and conducting IED sweeps to help ensure the safety of coalition military members, civilian contractors and Iraqi civilians. This has proved to be a very dangerous task in the past, as three Airmen have been killed performing these duties.

The CENTAF leaders toured the areas run by the Air Force and listened to the Airmen's stories. The general and the command chief made it clear the Airmen were the "rock stars," not themselves. 

Chief Small stayed an extra day to visit Airmen assigned to the 586th Expeditionary Mission Support Group, Det. 1, at Camp Patriot.

Camp Patriot, situated on a naval base in the CENTAF AOR, is run by the 586th EMSG for the Army. Thirty-two Airmen reside and work on Camp Patriot, surrounded by Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen miles from the nearest Air Force unit. A close relationship is also maintained with host-nation officers.

Most people would never expect to find Airmen on a naval base. This is just one more testament to the adaptability and resilience of today's Airmen, Chief Small said.

"You are here on a naval base carrying on 230 years of tradition," Chief Small said. "The Air Force does not write doctrine on what you are doing here. But what you do here is vital to the war effort." 

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