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Projecting American power: Team Travis delivers airlift support around the globe

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. R. Michael Longoria
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Three continents, eight countries and nearly 100 flight hours. This is just a snippet of how Team Travis projects American power, anytime, anywhere.

Specifically, this is how members of the 21st Airlift Squadron and the 860th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron conducted air mobility operations May 17-27.

“Our aircraft taking off is just the beginning of a mission,” said Capt. Justin Poole, 21st AS pilot. “The cargo we moved could inevitably support operations for years. As an Air Force and an air mobility enterprise, we do this so well that it looks routine.”

This C-17 Globemaster III crew, consisting of three pilots, two loadmasters and a flying crew chief, operated across the United States, Europe and Southwest Asia.

“The C-17 is the unity of strategic and tactical airlift,” said Poole. “That’s what our squadron does - we put these mission sets together and make them both happen because we are a highly capable aircrew flying a highly capable aircraft.”

The first stop on the world tour, what the Airmen called their 10-day journey, was at Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina.

“The lines between services blur during missions,” said Maj. Roger Gates, 21st AS pilot. “Everyone is just working together to make national policy a reality.”

At Pope, loadmasters worked with the U.S. Army to load resources destined for the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

The Army’s equipment was purposely designed to be moved by the C-17, explained Lt. Col. Chad Harris, 21st AS pilot. “It was developed with our aircraft in mind.”

The C-17 crew would return a few days later to transport more Army assets to an additional undisclosed location overseas.

“Our job is whatever it takes to project American power,” said Poole.

Speed of action is one reason Air Mobility Command enables the president and the Department of Defense to deploy U.S. armed forces anywhere in the world within hours and help sustain them.

“AMC might not get enough credit for how joint we are,” said Poole. “A lot of what we do is moving equipment and personnel for our sister services.”

Not just American policy, the crew also supported NATO’s Resolute Support Mission by delivering cargo from Bucharest, Romania, to Afghanistan. RS is the train, advise and assist mission made up of 39 contributing nations.

“The United States has unique airlift capabilities and our allies rely on us to take them to war,” said Harris.

Flexibility is another important aspect of rapid global mobility.

“With new emerging threats, priorities for the U.S. can change on a dime, so we have to be ready for whatever comes up,” said Poole. “And we are ready. We are ready because of our world class training and experience.”

An unwavering sense of purpose helps the crew get through the long days.

“There is chaos in the world and being able to get critical resources where they need to be in a timely manner to make a difference is a great feeling,” said Gates.

Poole added that it’s the crew culture, in addition to mission satisfaction, which makes it all worth it.

“We put a group of relative strangers on a C-17 and told them to go execute operations around the globe,” he said. “In the process, we became a family.”

The crew returned to Travis approximately 240 hours, more than a third of which was in the air, after their initial take-off with several missions completed.

However, their successes started before they even left thanks to efforts at home-station by every member of Team Travis.

“We are one gigantic Air Force family,” said Gates. “Our trip had just a few Airmen on board, but it all wouldn’t have come together without thousands of other Airman doing a million little things to ensure these missions happened on time.”

It’s important that everyone understands how vital they are.

“Team Travis plays a huge part in the overall big picture,” said Poole. “They don’t just help get the plane in the air. They are helping ensure that critical resources get downrange on time to the warfighters that need them.”