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AF supports both Sandy relief and Afghanistan operations

by Capt. Mauri Slater
618th Air and Space Operations Center (Tanker Airlift Control Center) Public Affairs

11/8/2012 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS) -- Mobility Airmen are playing key roles supporting humanitarian relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, while continuing to support U.S. operations around the world, including missions in Afghanistan.

Since Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast on Oct. 30, C-17 Globemaster IIIs, C-5 Galaxys, and C-130 Hercules have flown nearly 200 sorties, moving more than 700 passengers and approximately 3,000 tons of cargo. Equipment, supplies and crews range from teams of power company employees and blankets to generators, water pumps and utility trucks that are being used to restore power to areas devastated by the disaster.

The bulk of these airlift operations support Federal Emergency Management Agency requirements requested through U.S. Northern Command. Recovery and response efforts cross nine states. Nearly all of the airlift missions were planned, tasked and controlled from the 618th Air and Space Operations Center (Tanker Airlift Control Center) here. The majority of the effort is dedicated to restoring power and water removal operations.

"Crisis response and air mobility go hand-in-glove and our wings have performed magnificently," said Ashley Myers, TACC contingency response cell night shift lead. "From the aircrews and maintainers, to the aerial porters and contingency response forces that make up our team, everyone is razor-focused on the plans, and remains flexible and responsive to ensure the mission is accomplished."

Mobility Airmen from across the country including active duty, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard units came together at locations like March Air Reserve Base, Calif., and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Ariz. to load equipment and supplies for delivery. C-17s from eight airlift wings joined forces with five C-5 units and three C-130 airlift teams to execute the movements to drop-off points such as Stewart Air National Guard Base, Newburgh, N.Y., John F. Kennedy International Airport, N.Y. and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

"Air Force Reserve wings from as far as California and as close as Westover [Air Reserve Base, Mass.] have stepped up and volunteered to help," said Col. Greg Webster, TACC Air Force Reserve advisor to the commander. "Without this type of total force integration, we would not have been able to immediately respond to this immense effort as effectively as we have."

In addition to supporting relief operations, mobility Airmen and the TACC continue to support missions deploying, re-deploying and sustaining U.S. and coalition troops in ongoing Afghanistan operations. Today alone, nearly 150 AMC-controlled sorties are scheduled to deliver passengers and cargo into the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. For this reason, Hurricane Sandy relief missions are being planned, tasked and controlled by the TACC from the Contingency Response Cell.

TACC's Contingency Response Cell, comprised of mission planners, managers and command-and-control personnel, is specifically dedicated to Air Mobility Command's involvement in Hurricane Sandy relief operations, enabling other TACC personnel to continue planning missions to support other U.S. operations worldwide, including support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The CRC is integral to coordinating actions between U.S. Transportation Command, 18th Air Force, Air Mobility Command and the tasked wings and units.

"The CRC, better known as the 'glass room', provides a single focal point for coordination involving matching requirements with available assets," said Nicholas Sipos, TACC contingency response cell day shift lead. "This is my third involvement in humanitarian support in the CRC, and by far, this has been the best total team effort to date."

As Mobility Airmen continue delivering what has been requested thus far, meteorologists are carefully watching a potential winter storm that may once again threaten the East Coast. AMC remains vigilant and stands ready and prepared to provide more supplies and assistance if required by keeping aircraft and aircrew on alert and available to answer any call.

"Our Airmen live in these communities," said Lt. Col. Randall McNary, TACC Air National Guard advisor to the commander. "They are eager to help their neighbors."

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