Wing serves as 'one team, one fight' during training deployment
By Staff Sgt. Joe W. McFadden, 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 09, 2015
SOUDA BAY, Greece --
Naturally, any movement of aircraft and personnel from one base to another requires all the efforts of a team focused on a single mission.
The recent flying training deployment between the U.S. and Hellenic air forces Jan. 16 through Feb. 13 at Souda Bay, Greece, represented no exception.
The deployment aimed to develop and improve air readiness while expanding strategic and operational ties between the two NATO partners.
And for every F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft pilot who arrived from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, four or five specialists from various maintenance, mission support, medical and wing staff Airmen dedicated their time and resources to ensuring their success.
"It's a complex machine that gets put together any time we mobilize and deploy, and it's certainly not just the operators of the 480th FS," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. David Berkland, 480th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander.
Before the FTD even started, planners assigned to the 52nd Logistics Readiness Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base devised every detail of the physical move: items as large as the aircraft itself to small supplies like ear plugs. They also routed the path for 300 Airmen from the moment they left Spangdahlem in the air and their return back there, with accounting for all their accommodations, meals and local transportation while in Greece.
"It's been said that 'Amateurs think about strategy; professionals think about logistics,'" said Berkland, quoting U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Robert Barrow, former Commandant of the Marine Corps. "It's the foundation of any military operation -- logistics. We wouldn't be here without the 52nd LRS. Without them, there'd be no fuel, no maintenance equipment and no maintainers because of transportation. It's humbling, and whether you're in operations, maintenance, or security forces, I hope our guys understand the importance of the entire deployment team."
As 480th EFS pilots left the planning rooms for the flightline, they first checked in with aircrew flight equipment Airmen from the 52nd Operations Support Squadron. The specialists issued out the helmets, survival vests, harnesses and G-suits needed for every single flight.
The outward appearance of a pilot in this gear may seem bulky and cluttered to those unfamiliar, but the AFE professionals entrusted with caring for those items know they represent a critical moment for which they are prepared but hope they never have to face.
For one AFE journeyman, he said he knew if worse came to worst, everything he and his fellow technicians work on will save the pilots' lives. And when the pilots go home safely, it's a good feeling for them, too.