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Air mobility supports Georgia humanitarian relief

by Capt. Shilo Weir
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

8/13/2008 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFPN) -- Air Force mobility Airmen and aircraft are actively involved in airlift operations to aid the people of Georgia.

"We have crews engaged to deliver supplies to those in need, and others on standby, ready to go at a moment's notice if called upon to go in and provide relief," said Gen. Arthur Lichte, commander of Air Mobility Command.

Mobility Airmen will deliver medical supplies in two C-17 Globemaster IIIs Aug. 13 and 14, providing humanitarian assistance to Georgians in need. Mobility forces are postured for continued humanitarian efforts, AMC planners said Aug. 10.

"We've been called on to provide relief before; air mobility is a unique asset for our nation," said General Lichte, noting air mobility's role in providing aid to the besieged population of Berlin during the Berlin Airlift. Mobility forces have engaged in multiple relief efforts in the 60 years since that historic operation.

Earlier in the week, Air Force airlifters returned approximately 2,000 Georgian troops from their deployed location in Iraq. U.S. officials committed to transportation of the troops when Georgia leaders offered their participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"Our airlift capability also allowed our nation to keep its promise to Georgia," General Lichte said. "When Georgia needed its troops at home, we were able to quickly provide the lift to get them there.

AMC C-17s deployed with the 4th and the14th Airlift Squadrons flew missions redeploying Georgian troops from Iraq to the Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, on Aug. 10 and Aug. 11 after the Georgian government asked the U.S. for assistance. The redeployment operation spanned slightly more than 24 hours, he said.

Command and control and coordination of the airlift effort is provided by the 618th Tanker Airlift Control Center at Scott Air Force Base. Airmen in the 618th TACC coordinate an average of 900 airlift and air refueling missions each day, and can seamlessly redirect aircraft to support requirements for contingency or humanitarian relief operations.

During Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the 618th TACC Airmen tasked nearly 900 sorties to support relief efforts, and mobility forces moved more than 14,600 passengers, nearly 3,000 patients and hauled the equivalent of 686 semi-truckloads of supplies to and from the Gulf Coast region.

During Pakistan earthquake relief operations in 2005, the 621st Contingency Response Wing supported 273 U.S. missions, and provided 15,294,000 pounds of relief supplies, including more than 93,000 sleeping bags and 292,000 blankets. The wing's Airmen also loaded 587 trucks and processed 4,481 pallets.

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