KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Harsh roads and desert conditions were the norm for three Reserve Citizen Airmen during a recent deployment to Air Base 201, Agadez, Niger.
Airmen of the 403rd Logistics Readiness Squadron were deployed with the 724th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron and assigned to the Logistics Readiness Flight for six months providing transportation for personnel, cargo and supplies.
“When we landed in Niger, we immediately were assigned to drive our crew and those who arrived at the same time to the base,” said Tech. Sgt. James Baggott, 403rd LRS ground transportation craftsman. “We didn’t even know the route and were told to just follow the convoy and that was how we started the deployment.”
Working in vehicle transportation, the team had more than 140 convoy missions on a 6-mile-round trip between the base and the civilian airport, which accumulated to transporting more than 1900 personnel and over 815 tons of cargo.
“We did a lot of driving,” said Tech. Sgt. Joshua Cummings, 403rd LRS vehicle operations. “Our main mission was to move people and equipment from the airport to the base.”
Baggott also said that in addition to moving equipment and supplies from the airport to the base, they delivered the items to their respective units around the base.
The LRF vehicle operations members worked closely with the Air Terminal Operations Center in order to maximize their time efficiency, by ensuring they knew exactly when the aircraft were scheduled to land. They also could not leave the airport until the aircraft departed.
Transporting Air Force cargo was not the only thing they did though.
“We helped coordinate three local bazaars on base and provided the transportation for vendors and their goods that were being brought onto the base and then back,” said Tech. Sgt. Johnathan Simmons, 403rd LRS vehicle operations.
Baggott said that they had learned that the three bazaars held on the Air Base injected around $26,000 dollars into the local economy.
They were also responsible for coordinating and escorting individuals on base during base events, such as tours for dignitaries from the Nigerien government. One specific distinguished visitor was the governor of Agadez, who visited to see the base progress.
The LRF was also responsible for maintaining and providing U-Drive-It vehicles for base personnel to use off base and the civil affairs office.
The civil affairs office helped organize community events between the base and the local community, some of which included service members competing against the local basketball and soccer teams.
“I did get selected to go play basketball against the locals,” said Cummings. “I missed out on playing soccer. Their soccer field was really nice and you could tell soccer was a staple for them and they had a lot of people in the stands. I enjoyed getting out to see the area and the people.”
Whether it was the mission or community building, the Airmen of the 403rd LRS were involved said Baggott.
“We had a piece in everything that was going on. We did more than 175 vehicle requests to support other units and their needs,” said Baggott. “The LRF vehicle operations were like the glue that held everything together.”