SOUTHWEST ASIA –
The aerial port is key to any mobility mission. Without the port and the Airmen that work there, cargo aircraft would fly hollow aircraft from destination to destination.
The 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron aerial port is broken down into many different sections to ensure the numerous tasks they need to complete are done in a timely and efficient manner.
These sections, such as the air terminal operations center operates as a glue that connects the multiple sections as well as communicate with other units on base and bases throughout the area of responsibility.
“We are the checks and balances of the aerial port,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Christian Rhodes, 386th ELRS ATOC controller. “We relay information from the command post and [both 385th and 386th Air Expeditionary Wing] maintenance [squadrons] to the Airmen on the flightline.”
One of the sections they relay information to is the special handling section. This team gets hands on with all cargo that will be loaded on to aircraft.
Before cargo can be loaded it must be inspected. These inspections ensure the packing configuration is safe and it meets all requirements to fly.
“We do inspections every day, especially deployed,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Daniel Wiggins, 386th ELRS special handling team. “We inspect pallets that have ammo and explosives going to troops down range and even bigger things like trucks or tanks.”
Once the cargo is inspected and approved, it is transported to the cargo yard and waits for its flight. It is then put into a computer system, allowing the load planning section to configure a layout to fit the right cargo on the correct airframe. They place it in specific locations that will adhere to where the cargo can fit according to the aircrafts limitations.
“We show the crew how the load is going to be sequenced onto their plane,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Todd Marquardt, 386th ELRS load planner. “We are the last stop before it hits the loadmasters.”
After the plan is in place, the ramp services team takes the pallets and other cargo to the aircraft and pushes them on, securing the cargo for flight.
“We are the ones outside pushing pallets,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Alex Yee, 386th ELRS ramp supervisor. “Whether we are loading, unloading or providing fleet services--we are always busy.”
The last thing to be loaded on an aircraft are the passengers. The passenger terminal is the one stop for all passengers who are either heading to their final destination or redeploying home.
The aerial port here has contributed to more than 490 missions, moved nearly 8,000 passengers and over 1,800 tons of cargo in the last month, making them one of the busiest aerial ports in the world.
"Our 115 Port Dawgs have brought their combat logistics expertise from 19 different active, guard, and reserve units to form a highly functioning aerial port flight. Every Airman plays a key role in moving the warfighters and their cargo throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Anthony King, aerial port flight commander. “We are running the busiest aerial port in U.S. Air Forces Central Command, and the operations in the theater are successful because of my team's outstanding efforts."
Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the U.S. Air Forces Central Command website.