Air Mobility brings forces to Haiti

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- On Feb. 29, President George W. Bush ordered U.S. Marines into the Republic of Haiti as the leading element of a multinational peacekeeping force sanctioned by the United Nations.

Air Mobility Command is once again on the leading edge of transportation efforts, bringing up to 2,000 Marines into Haiti's capital of Port-au-Prince, with the 18th Air Force directing airlift operations through its Tanker Airlift Control Center at Scott AFB, Ill.

As of March 5, the TACC has provided command and control for 37 missions, including a mix of C-5, C-17, C-141, and C-130 aircraft to lift more than 1,026 troops and more than 1,210 short tons of cargo.

In addition, the TACC has been managing these missions at the same time directing operations supporting the massive troop rotation out of the U.S. Central Command area of operations in Southwest Asia.

According to TACC deputy commander, Col Edward Breen, AMC has not reduced support to the ongoing major force rotation in the U.S. Central Command area of operations, despite the additional challenge. USCENTCOM officials report that not a single soldier deploying to or redeploying from the USCENTCOM area has been delayed due to the Haiti operations.

"Our airlift crews and maintainers surged to even higher levels than the already very busy operational tempo to support the additional airlift missions for Haiti," said Colonel Breen. "The Tanker Airlift Control Center team absorbed the additional workload without hindering any support to the USCENTCOM operations."

Colonel Breen said that it is anticipated the current airlift flow to Haiti will continue through the weekend and then return to normal sustainment levels.

Lt. Gen. William Welser III, 18th Air Force commander, said supporting the Haiti mission with Air Mobility forces is fairly straight forward.

"Moving the Marines into Haiti is typical of how we operate. There is a requirement presented to U.S. Transportation Command from one of the other unified commands, in this case, U.S. Southern Command. TACC puts a planning cell together in coordination with the requirements cell at USTRANSCOM in the J-3 (Operations Directorate), and then TACC apportions assets and our Total Force Team executes the mission."

The call for troops into Haiti came in late February. The general said the Joint Staff provided specific guidance to USTRANSCOM's J-3, which worked with the TACC to come up with the air mobility requirements.

"Anytime there is a situation requiring movement of troops and equipment, the J-3 will get together with the appropriate components and start discussions about what needs to be done, and the possible units that will move," said General Welser.

"The TACC was assigned the mission and immediately put crews into "Charlie" alert status...to be able to generate (the mission) within 16 hours if need be," he said. "And that proved to be fortuitous."