First C-17 lands on refurbished runway at Shindand
by Capt. Jamie Humphries
438th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
6/2/2011 - KABUL, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- A C-17 Globemaster III landed at Shindand Air Base recently marking the first time the large military transport aircraft was needed to land at the base since the refurbished runway opened in December 2010.
The landing marked a significant milestone as strategic airlift provides a critical and important capability to mass lethal and nonlethal forces on a global scale. Airlift is the rapid mobility cornerstone of the United States' first responder force in times of crisis anywhere around the globe, Shindand officials said.
"Shindand's ability to operate and maintain a C-17 capable war-fighting platform directly supports the U.S. Central Command commander's operational support vision for Western Afghanistan," said Col. Larry Bowers, the 838th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group commander "C-17 aircraft, in particular, are often the first called and sometimes the only military force capable of providing an initial response and volume to a crisis within hours of the need."
Located in Herat province, Shindand's originally Soviet-built runway, constructed in 1961, was rebuilt at the base after it suffered massive damage by coalition forces during the initiation of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2002. The runway was rebuilt in 2009 and since then has supported coalition aircraft as large as a C-130 Hercules.
Officials said the role of the C-17 will be to transport cargo and passengers and within 60 days, the flightline will also have the capability to support two C-17s 24-hours a day in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
"Aircraft improves battlefield distribution for users and increases the system's ability to respond quickly to change which will serve to shorten Shindand's logistical timelines and supply lines for personnel, pieces and parts in direct support of OEF," Colonel Bowers explained. "Airlift is viewed as a foundation of U.S. national security at the strategic level and as a crucial capability for operational commanders within a theater."
The landing was truly a joint team effort, officials said.
"This landing could not have taken place without the teamwork of many base agencies coming together in a total team effort," said Capt. Billy Wilson, of 838th AEAG operations. "What's truly phenomenal is this landing had zero impact on fixed-wing operations."
Shindand's 2,600-meter long by 27.5-meter wide runway is constructed of concrete and provides all-weather capability. It will support all Afghan air force aircraft and is used to facilitate the Afghan pilot training program while supporting coalition operations.
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