JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Located nearly 3,000 miles away from their wing headquarters and even farther from their major command, Airmen assigned to 715th Air Mobility Operations Group face many challenges due to the unit’s geographical separation and Alaska’s often-austere environment.
To address these challenges, and the need to train regularly and realistically, Airmen assigned to the unit’s three squadrons forge ahead with ingenuity and innovation.
“We as a command rely heavily on our Mobility Airmen at units like the 715th AMOG to provide global reach for not only for AMC aircraft, but also our partner units who rely us to get them to the right place anytime, anywhere,” said Chief Master Sgt. Shelina Frey, Air Mobility Command command chief, during a recent visit here. “Each location and each mission brings unique challenges. However, the drive, focus and innovation of our Mobility Airmen wins every time.”
During her visit, the AMC command chief witnessed first-hand what it takes to conquer the tyranny of distance in an area of responsibility spanning 36 nations, 16 time zones and 53 percent of the Earth’s surface. She spoke with Airmen about their mission, successes, opportunities, and how they train to be ready at all times.
The 715th AMOG aligns under the 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. That wing operates two groups – one at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and one at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The wing, groups, and six squadrons provide fixed and deployed maintenance, aerial port and command and control support to AMC forces throughout this vast region.
The 715th AMOG is responsible for six locations in the Pacific and has more than 800 Mobility Airmen assigned. The group’s three squadrons are located at Andersen Air Base, Guam; JBPHH and here.
This geographical positioning of the three locations, known in Pacific Air Forces as a strategic triangle, postures the group to respond to real world contingency and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief missions at a moment’s notice.
“AMC’s capability to project Rapid Global Mobility around the Pacific is dependent on the Airmen of the 715th AMOG,” said Frey. “The day-to-day operations of the en route system guarantees delivery of warfighting and humanitarian effects across 53 percent of the earth’s surface.”
When disaster strikes or diplomatic environments change, the AMOG’s Airmen must be prepared for a surge in operations in a rapidly changing environment or scenario. Due to the nature of response needed, the often challenging climate and weather in Alaska, and the global imperative for success, realistic training and exercises are a large part of what the group does in the far North.
“Basically when the flag goes up, we can get our mission partners out of town,” said Chief Master Sgt. Antonio Brock, 715th Air Mobility Operations Group superintendent. “Our role is critical to the deployment machine.”
Recently, the 732nd Air Mobility Squadron, under the 715th AMOG, demonstrated its operational capabilities during Exercise Polar Force 17-4, an approximately two-week exercise designed to test JBER’s wartime and contingency operational capabilities – including areas of particular interest to mobility Airmen, such as deployment receptions, noncombatant evacuee operations, and command and control support to AMC forces.
“The 732nd AMS is responsible for several key processes,” said Brock. “A few of these include performing the joint inspection; processing, loading and downloading all cargo and passengers; fleet services and maintenance operations for all aircraft that arrive, deploy and transit through JBER.”
A large part of the exercise included Airmen from the 732nd AMS working joint inspections with partner units to ensure all cargo is safe for airlift.
While working at various locations across the base, the joint inspection team worked through challenges not only with identifying process improvements but also with real world elements during the exercise scenario.
"We had over nine inches of snow hit during the exercise,” said Michael Boy, 773rd LRS, installation deployment manager. “We were still able to have all chalks ready to go within 24 hours. How we exercised that day is what we would deal with in reality.”
To set those participating up for success, the 732nd AMS and the 773rd Logistics Readiness Squadron conducted increment monitor training prior to the exercise. The training familiarized unit increment monitors with how to properly ship their unit’s equipment and cargo for deployment.
“Meeting the standards of the [joint inspection] team is always the overall goal,” said Boy. “The partnership piece drives us toward our goal. If we are able to understand our roles and understand each other’s frustrations, the better the partnership becomes and we will be able to execute that mission.”
The exercise validated several key improvements to the installation deployment process, while highlighting the results of cargo prep and increment monitor training, said Brock. Ultimately, the mobility mission was a key area in validating the overall wartime capabilities of JBER as a joint base.
At the end of her visit to the 715th AMOG, Frey reaffirmed the value of the AMC mission performed by the group’s Airmen.
“We as a command exist so that others can execute their mission,” said Frey. “You read a lot about airpower, but you don’t always see how these assets are put into position at a moment’s notice -- I can tell you, it’s because of AMC.”