52nd FW supports OAW, maintains mission

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Melody Howley
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

In the weeks following the official end of the U.S.’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, Ramstein Air Base has been supporting Operation Allies Welcome by processing approximately 34,100 evacuees, making Ramstein AB the largest reception port for evacuees within U.S. European Command as of Aug. 20.

In order for the 52nd Fighter Wing to support OAR efforts at Ramstein AB, Spangdahlem Air Base hosted a massive increase in cargo and passenger aircraft, all while maintaining its normal fighter jet operations and global deterrence mission.

“We are currently manned for 16-hour days when it comes to airfield operating hours,” said 1st Lt. Jennifer Beckley, 52nd Operations Support Squadron director of operations of the Airfield Operations Flight. “We have flexed to 24/7 operations for the past three weeks in order to support the OAR mission.”

This support for OAR resulted in a total of 8,624 man hours from Airfield Operations.

During normal operations, the 52nd Fighter Wing typically will have 20-30 sortie missions per day, as well as a certain amount of aircraft occupancy allowed on the ground at any given time, all while being one of the only wings in U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa maintaining the Security of Enemy Air Defense mission. On the Air Mobility Command side, a typical day consists of one to three missions per day.

During OAR, however, the wing almost doubled the amount of aircraft allotted on the airfield.

“We were able to accomplish this by accurately measuring the ramp space that we have,” Beckley said. “The 52nd Civil Engineering Squadron guys were out there putting down markings in ample time and expedited this entire process in being able to support OAR as well as our AMC mission.”

While the wing was supporting OAR, the mission at the 52nd FW never slowed down.

“Because of the requirement for training to maintain pilot proficiency, as well as ensuring our jets are operation-ready at a moment’s notice, we cannot afford to stop our mission here,” said Lt. Col. John Powers, 52nd FW Operations Support Squadron commander. “No matter what is happening, we have to keep our 480th Fighter Squadron going and ensure they are mission-ready at all times.”

“While all of OAR is going on, we still have our missions to support,” Beckley said. “Our mission is still to deter aggression and make sure our fighter pilots here are getting the training and the reps that they need. We were not responsible for slowing down our normal operations at all.”

Powers said he is amazed at the flexibility that the 52nd FW has shown throughout the past few weeks in supporting OAR while maintaining home station operations.

“I think we’ve made it very clear that we are a flexible force,” Powers said. “Spangdahlem AB is already unique in that we have the 480th FS mission, as well as the AMC mission on the 726 Air Mobility Squadron side. We have shown that we are multi-capable Airmen that can handle a unique mission here at Spangdahlem AB all while supporting OAR.”

“The things that our Airmen are able to do on such short notice, just because they’re asked … it’s truly inspiring and powerful,” said Beckley.

Col. Leslie Hauck, 52nd FW commander, said he could not be more proud of the Airmen at the 52nd FW.

“The 52nd FW and our mission partners here are always ready and capable, and we are happy to help support OAR,” said Hauck. “I’m proud of all the Airmen stationed here for their tenacity and professionalism, and for their ability to continue to be a premiere fighting force while flexing to support a major humanitarian crisis on such short notice.”