CRW Airmen support CENTCOM Resolute Support Mission
By Tech. Sgt. Luther Mitchell, 621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 22, 2021
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Airmen from the 621st Contingency Response Wing recently returned from supporting retrograde operations in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility as part of Task Force 74.
The team of Devil Raiders stationed at both Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and Travis Air Force Base, California, assisted the U.S. Joint Force commander in executing the safe and orderly retrograde of all U.S. and coalition forces from Afghanistan.
The CRW's ability to mobilize within 12 hours in response to the president's directed drawdown and support strategic objectives in a contested environment is precisely why the wing is considered Air Mobility Command's 9-1-1 force.
"The contingency response groups are trained to operate in limited and contested operations," said Master Sgt. Erik Larson, 921st Contingency Response Squadron team chief. "We know how to work with less and not only get the job done but get it done efficiently and effectively."
A combined force of 146 personnel from the 821st CRG, 621st CRG and the 621st Air Mobility Advisory Group deployed to support retrograde operations. Personnel consisted of aerial port, aircraft maintenance, security forces, air traffic control, vehicle maintenance, airfield management, communications, ramp coordinators and air traffic control Airmen.
The task force split into a contingency response element and a contingency response team to assist retrograde efforts in different parts of the country. The CRE provided the majority of assistance utilizing over 400 personnel to include members with the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing as well as the theater-enabling force members from across 15 bases.
“The core 621st CRW CRE was the heartbeat of the Afghanistan drawdown,” said Lt. Col. Mark Berthelotte, 321st CRS commander and CRE commander. “Completing any and all implied and explicit tasks was our mentality, no matter how far out of our norm it might be, because frankly, we were it. To our joint partners, we were the face of ‘The Air Force,’ so we completed any blue issues or requirements.”
The 621st CRW's ability to execute operations when requirements lack clarity, self-sufficiency and mobility expertise were vital in meeting the Joint Force Air Component commander objectives.
"All members of our team demonstrated flexibility and tenacity in the face of a daunting mission on an aggressive timeline," said Col. Daniel Mollis, 621st AMAG deputy commander and TF74 commander. "Whatever it took, we got the job done."
Theater command and control experts with the 621st Air Mobility Operations Squadron rapidly responded to Air and Space Operation Center surge requirements at U.S. Air Forces Central.
"Once a contingency operation begins, and if requirements exceed manpower, the 621st AMOS provides Air Mobility Division augmentation support when tasked," said Maj. Jonathan Loyd, 621st AMOS combat systems flight commander. "The 609th Air Mobility Division signaled that they needed additional personnel to help with the operations, so the 621st AMOS, along with some members from the contingency response squadrons, rapidly responded."
Air Mobility Liaison Officers and Expeditionary Air and Ground Liaison Element Airmen from the 621st Mobility Support Operations Squadron instructed, advised and deployed with joint partners playing a vital role in the rapid expedition of personnel and equipment.
"With the short time allotted to us, almost everything we did was time-sensitive," said Staff Sgt. Dennis Daniel, 621st MSOS EAGLE member. "I believe that we were critical to the mission to mitigate easily-missed issues that come from preparing cargo that would cause the process to take longer than it needs to."
The 621st CRW's mission sets were essential to air operations success supporting the retrograde operations and handing back base control to the host nation officials.
The contingency response team managed aircraft and cargo at an expedited pace, allowing higher headquarters the flexibility to move up the base closure date to meet the president's timeline.
"The CRT was able to push over thousands of tons of cargo out from the base," Larson said. "The success of the CRT shows not only how viable a CRT can be, but also showcases that the contingency response group does more than just base and port openings."
The 621st CRW's ability to deliver agile, light and lean forces to the right place at the right time is what makes it a trusted option for senior leaders in achieving Department of Defense mobility objectives.
"Congrats to the Devil Raiders on the safe and effective planning and execution of a historic mission!" said Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, AMC commander. "I could not be more proud of our AMC and CR Airmen!"