AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar --
The 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar enables rapid global mobility with a diverse group of Airmen and Soldiers from all walks of life.
The “Mighty Ocho,” with a mission to expedite global reach through its Air Mobility Control Center, Strategic Airlift Maintenance and Aerial Port Operations, enables the warfighter by incorporating a wide range of experience brought to the theater by its personnel.
Moving passengers and cargo at the largest military aerial port in U.S. Central Command requires deliberate action through close partnerships. One of the members of the Mighty Ocho team is 1st Lt. Benjamin Schneider, 295 Ordnance Company, U.S. Army Reserve. Schneider leads a team of 16 Soldiers, under tactical control of the 8th EAMS, in moving sensitive munitions to support operations throughout the theater.
Schneider integrates his civilian professional experience working for Amazon to galvanize logistics operations at Al Udeid Air Base.
“Working for Amazon Logistics has given me the skills and knowledge of how to effectively allocate the resources of my team to complete any ammunition movement, and eliminate any process shortcomings and dead space, to more efficiently complete any mission,” said Schneider, adding that his experience working for Amazon “has also provided me the ability to better manage the supply of munitions and communicate that supply need more effectively to any required party."
As a leader in the 8th EAMS, he leverages his Soldiers’ ordnance and transportation expertise to partner with Aerial Port Airmen to ensure seamless interoperability to load mobility aircraft.
“Being able to work alongside the Air Force in a joint environment has opened my eyes to the logistical capabilities of each branch of the military,” said Schneider. “Being able to not only move ammunition and other resources by land, but by air and sea as well, has given me a true understanding of how important integrating different organizations together can provide a more well-rounded and complete unit.”
Speaking on his experience with the 8th EAMS, Schneider noted that the “knowledge that I have gained working alongside the Air Force, and learning from many of their leadership, will be brought forward into my civilian career to help grow my own organization.”
Directly partnering with Schneider’s Soldiers is Tech. Sgt. Janet Lindsay, Special Cargo Handler, 8th EAMS.
Lindsay, an Air Force Reservist, directly supports the warfighter as a special cargo handler lead at the Aerial Port, by integrating her civilian leadership experience as a teacher and now as a Principal at Paris Elementary School in Paris, Idaho.
“As a teacher I spent years teaching and building relationships with students, understanding that everyone's learning style is unique; through this experience I was able to effectively and positively teach each student to achieve personal success,” said Lindsay. “Now as the Principal the same techniques are not only applied to my faculty and staff, but directly into my leadership role in the Air Force.”
At Al Udeid, Lindsay guides her Airmen to safely execute the mission while overcoming extreme heat and constant demands to move warfighters and their assets to the fight. In the month of July 2018 alone, the 8th EAMS moved more than 1,100 tons of special cargo. Lindsay noted that “individual accountability and discipline play an important role whether on campus, district, or military level. The overall mission success depends squarely on team work and dedication.”
The 8th EAMS heavily relies upon its diverse Total Force Airmen from the Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard, and Active Duty components to optimize air mobility operations.
After Lindsay and her fellow Aerial Porters load the cargo and passengers, the task of launching and repairing mobility aircraft falls on the shoulders of Royal Canadian air force Maj. Marcelo Plada, Maintenance Operations Officer for the 8th EAMS.
At home as part of an exchange program, Plada is assigned to Joint Base Lewis McChord where he is responsible for all C-17Globemaster III maintenance activities. He was selected by Canada’s Aerospace Engineering (AERE) Officer Council to attend the Air Force’s Accelerated Aircraft Maintenance Officer Course at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. He was then assigned to the 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron where he transitioned from learning and assisting to eventually being expected to function effectively as the maintenance operations officer.
“The Exchange Program has allowed me to grow my Aircraft Maintenance Management skills. I never would have had the opportunity to work at such a high warfighting level if I had stayed in Canada,” said Plada. “The exposure gained at McChord and on my deployment with the Air Force is unprecedented for my AERE trade. It is tremendously beneficial for both the Royal Canadian air force and AERE community.”
This experience is leveraged while, deployed as Plada oversees the maintenance for all C-5 Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster III, and commercial aircraft at Al Udeid Air Base. As a Coalition member and leader in the 8th EAMS, Plada integrates his knowledge and perspective to receive, repair, and launch Air Mobility Command’s strategic airlift fleet.
“This opportunity gives us a unique firsthand experience into a high operational tempo deployed environment that very few AEREs have ever been or can be a part of,” said Plada. “Now my future looks a lot brighter as I will be able to bring extensive firsthand experience in one of our country's most important strategic airlift aircraft back to our flying community.”
The diversity of the 8th EAMS, as reflected by its joint, coalition, and total force squadron members, directly enables the squadron’s mission to expedite global reach. Whether it is an Army Soldier moving ammunition, a USAF Reservist processing special cargo, or a Coalition Airman leading aircraft repairs, the “Mighty Ocho” moves with precision to support the warfighter through dedication and teamwork.