Small size, big impact

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Matthew Wisher
  • 435th Air Expeditionary Wing

It’s no secret that Air Force operations typically run 24/7, but the Airmen of the 776th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron Airfield Operations Flight at Chabelley Air Base, Djibouti prove that they are not your typical Air Force operation.

Despite its small size and austere location, four entities on the base are responsible for executing Africa’s largest remotely piloted aircraft mission day and night.

“The Airfield Operations Flight plays the role in keeping the aircraft airborne,” said Capt. Darrell Peebles, 776th EABS Airfield Operations flight commander. "We provide pivotal Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance over watch to our fellow deployers in the surrounding area."

Whether it is Air Traffic Controllers coordinating with French counterparts and successfully boosting radio frequency range, or Airfield Management cultivating international relations by developing a plan for future programming of construction projects to fix degraded pavement conditions used for takeoff and landings, these are only two entities of the combined efforts that ensure mission success.

“The Airfield Operations Flight is a melting pot of careers,” said Senior Airman Kahlil Cooke, 776th EABS airfield management shift lead. “We support multiple flying missions, ultimately ensuring every aircraft departs and lands safely.”

Weather is also incorporated into the AOF due to CAB’s unique operating environment. These Airmen provide a better sight picture for flying units, have increased lead time on significant weather warnings, as well as mitigate issues with flight departures and arrivals.

Airmen in Petroleum, Oil, and Lubricants also play a role in the AOF operations by not only performing fuel services to aircraft, but also providing fuel to sustain a series of generators that provide critical power for sustained flight line operations.

“Our jobs have a domino effect on the mission,” said Senior Airman Alisha Geisler 776th EABS radar, airfield, and weather systems journeyman. “We all play an intricate role in the mission, and I couldn't be more proud to be a part of this flight and involved in what we do.”

Working as a cohesive unit, all these entities of the AOF remind us of the capabilities that well trained and mission focused Airmen bring to the fight.

Despite operational challenges and environmental constraints, their “mission first, people always” attitude has enabled them to innovate solutions and work as one team to execute the mission.

“I’m very proud of these fine Airmen,” said Lt. Col. Nicholas Wabeke, 776th EABS commander. “Their hard work and dedication to our mission no matter the challenges is a testament of what we do daily to get the job done.”