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Mobility Airmen continue peak pace for Operation Enduring Freedom

by Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

10/19/2009 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS) -- When President Barak Obama authorized an additional 17,000 troops to "surge" into Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom in February, mobility Airmen answered the call.

To move that many personnel, a concentrated effort in the mobility airlift and air refueling community was needed.

According to statistics from the U.S. Air Forces Central Combined Air Operations Center in Southwest Asia, cargo and passenger movements for January and February remained fairly steady at the "pre-surge" state for Operation Enduring Freedom. In January, 16,450 tons of cargo and 26,600 passengers were moved by mobility aircraft while in February 16,720 tons of cargo and 24,200 passengers were moved.

By March; however, the Operation Enduring Freedom troop surge pace picked up dramatically. Between February and March, there was nearly a 75 percent increase in cargo and passenger movement for Afghanistan. In March, 22,100 tons of cargo and 32,400 passengers were moved in the Operation Enduring Freedom area of responsibility.

Since March, that pace has continued to grow and AMC officials continue to meet that demand. Between April and September, more than 137,500 tons of cargo was moved by mobility airlifters such as the C-5 Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster III and C-130 Hercules for Operation Enduring Freedom. Additionally in that time, mobility Airmen processed 202,300 passengers with a peak in May with 37,500 passenger movements.

Air refueling planes are also experiencing an increase in business moving the additional troops into Afghanistan. KC-135 Stratotankers and KC-10 Extenders have demonstrated a steady increase in fuel offloaded as the year progressed, Combined Air Operations Center statistics show.

In February, tankers offloaded 60.1 million pounds of fuel to receiver aircraft as the surge was announced. By September, that number grew to 80.2 million pounds of fuel off-loaded. Combined from February through September, tankers offloaded more than 563 million pounds of fuel in the stepped up war effort -- an average of 70.45 million pounds of fuel offloaded each month.

Mobility Airmen not only stepped up their efforts for airlift and air refueling for Operation Enduring Freedom, but also they've done it with airdrops. Through the summer months, the Combined Air Operations Center has also tracked the volume of cargo airdropped into Afghanistan at record levels.

In June, a record 3.2 million pounds of cargo was airdropped, only to be beaten in July with 3.3 million, then August with 3.8 million and again in September with 4.1 million pounds. That's more than 14.4 million pounds of cargo floating down from the sky over Afghanistan -- directly delivering much-needed supplies and aid to American and coalition warfighters.

The record number of pounds delivered also means record numbers of airdrop bundles delivered. As an example, in 2007, the Air Force airdropped 5,675 cargo bundles to troops in Afghanistan. In 2009, with an average of about 1,065 bundles a month, the Air Force is on pace to airdrop more than 12,700 bundles -- more than doubling the pace two years ago. Additionally, the Air Force is doing this with less airdrop missions -- 538 in 2007 compared to a projected 435 in 2009.

The efforts of mobility Airmen are not going unnoticed in Afghanistan.

"The Air Force airdrops are providing needed support to Soldiers in the field; getting people and parts to our guys in the (forward operating bases) and in the mountains," said Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 James Wright, deployed to Afghanistan from the 101st Airborne from Fort Campbell, Ky. "The Air Force is doing a great job and it's great to have them out here."

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