Deployed AMC officer supports war operations effort

Editor's note: The following article was one of a series of articles developed by the 319th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs Office in commemoration of the one year anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom. By Staff Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol 319th Air Refuelin -- Working at the heart of air mobility operations for Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Joint Task Force Horn of Africa, Lt. Col. Bruce Hendrickson oversees a lot of movement, action and effort in the Global War on Terrorism.

From his position as the Air Mobility Division night chief in the Combined Air Operations Center in Southwest Asia, Colonel Hendrickson is in charge of the integration and direct execution of theater and strategic mobility forces to support the joint forces commander's requirements and objectives.

"We have close to 100 people assigned to our division and we operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said Colonel Hendrickson, who deployed from Grand Forks AFB, S.D. "The Air Mobility Division typically runs more than 140 C-130 sorties a day and more than 30 KC-135 and KC-10 sorties a day - offloading close to 1.3 million pounds of fuel a day to our receivers."

Colonel Hendrickson said air mobility assets also move more than 1,700 passengers a day.

"We get the beans and bullets to the troops in the field and pass the fuel to the fighters and bombers that support the troops," Colonel Hendrickson said.

The commander for the U.S. Central Command's Air Forces, Lt. Gen. Walter Buchanan III, said in a 2003 interview, the CAOC, where Colonel Hendrickson is assigned for deployment, represents the air component headquarters for the entire area of responsibility, or AOR, that includes 25 countries.

The CAOC, he said, "recognizes the flexibility and diversity of some of the airpower we have available in the fact that we are able to swing assets from Afghanistan, Iraq, and JTF-HOA to support any one of the Joint Task Forces in our region.

"The CAOC gives me that ability to go ahead and exercise centralized command," General Buchanan said. "At the same time, the technology that we have in the CAOC gives me the ability to exercise a centralized command ability to be able to control airpower across the AOR."

General Buchanan also said the CAOC provides a link for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, and supporting components, along with the attack assets that U.S. Central Command has in the AOR.

"You can think of it as a communications hub where we will get the feed or tip from an intelligence asset, either a reconnaissance platform or even someone on the ground, and then we can fine tune our targeting process," General Buchanan said. "Then we can direct an asset whether it is to take a picture, provide support, or to put a bomb on target."

Currently on a 120-day deployment, Colonel Hendrickson said he has learned a lot more about cargo and passenger movement and C-130 operations than he knew before. He also said he's seen how Air Mobility Command jets and crews work in support of the war effort.

"I am very happy that I am a tanker pilot," Colonel Hendrickson said. "After seeing both sides and controlling them both, the tankers run themselves and do the job everyday."

Colonel Hendrickson said deployed life is getting better every day.

"The mission gets done, and will always get done," Colonel Hendrickson said. "People are dealing with the time away. After a recent trip to Baghdad International Airport, I am very happy to be in the Air Force. We have deployments, but I met people there who are [deployed] for a year. So, being deployed where I am is not that bad."

The lieutenant colonel said he looks forward to his continued support of the Global War on Terrorism.

"I can't wait to do what I can to support the mission," Colonel Hendrickson said. "Flying would be better, but what I do now is just as important."