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Homeland Security

Air Force, AMC officials poised for Hurricane Gustav support

by Mark Diamond
Headquarters AMC Public Affairs

8/29/2008 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFPN) -- In response to preliminary reports that possibly point Hurricane Gustav toward the Gulf Coast of the United States, Air Force officials are postured to support relief efforts, if needed.

Hurricane Gustav, which formed Aug. 25 about 260 miles southeast of Haiti, is the third hurricane of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. On Aug. 27, the hurricane was moving away from Haiti. Its tentative track pointed the storm toward the U.S. Gulf coast, including Louisiana, where Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.

Command and control coordination of any humanitarian airlift effort would be provided by the 618th Tanker Airlift Control Center here. Personnel from the 618th TACC coordinate an average of 900 airlift and air refueling missions each day, and can seamlessly redirect these missions to support emerging requirements for contingency or humanitarian relief operations.

According to Maj. Gen. Mark S. Solo, the 618th TACC commander, as soon as a hurricane is identified as having potential to strike the United States, 618th TACC officials begin posturing mobility forces to be able to respond to various relief scenarios. He said this "posturing" may include placing aircraft and crews in Bravo alert status, meaning crews are on standby and ready to launch in three hours or less from notification.

Other forces used to open and operate temporary remote bases, known as Contingency Response Group elements, also may be postured for short notice response in these situations.

Humanitarian operations are a major significant emphasis for the 618th TACC team.

"The 618th TACC has a long history of preparing for and assisting civilian authorities following a natural disaster," General Solo said.

During hurricanes Katrina and Rita, 618th TACC personnel 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.

After setting up the contingency response cell during Hurricane Katrina, TACC Airmen rapidly turned requirements into missions for humanitarian airlift assistance to people on the Gulf Coast. Within the first 24 hours of Katrina's landfall, TACC officials aggressively moved search-and-rescue teams and their equipment to Louisiana and then quickly shifted focus to a hub-and-spoke operation to bring in supplies and rescue patients.

Contingency Response Group elements from the 615th Contingency Response Wing at Travis AFB, Calif., and the 621st CRW at McGuire AFB, N.J., deployed to the Gulf Coast region to establish airfield operations in support of the massive hurricane relief effort.

During Pakistan earthquake relief operations in 2005, 621st CRW Airmen 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. Wing personnel also loaded 587 trucks and processed 4,481 pallets.

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