AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy –
Astral Knight 2021 is a joint, multinational exercise designed to test integrated air and missile defense capabilities and the interoperability of joint existing command and control at the operational and tactical levels with participating NATO Allies.
Airmen from the 31st Fighter Wing are conducting this exercise across multiple locations throughout Europe with U.S. partners, and among them are the 31st Logistics Readiness Squadron, executing the mission while maintaining the capability to deploy personnel and cargo in support of air and space expeditionary forces.
“There are many Air Force Specialty Codes and Airmen within the 31st LRS who are involved in making any movement happen, especially with pre-planning and prior to flying window execution dates,” said Maj. Alexander Yee, 31st LRS director of operations. “Many of the planning and execution steps revolving around an event like AK21 would be many of the same actions we would have to conduct in a real world scenario – lines of communication between units, keystroke actions in programs, operations of material handling equipment, etc.”
The 31st LRS plans and executes surface, rail, air and sea movement of passengers and cargo, and is responsible for more than 1,060 vehicles valued at over $90.44 million, stock accounts valued at more than $521 million, and the receipt, storage, quality and issue of over 12 million gallons of fuel and cryogenics products annually.
The unit also manages more than 1,075 unit type codes, tasking 3,724 personnel and 2,401.1 short tons of cargo and maintains a war reserve materiel program valued at $1.3 million.
Logistics planners, travel management cargo sections, air and ground transportation, vehicle maintenance, supply and petroleum, oil and lubricant troops were responsible for planning AK21 actions prior to execution, bolstering interoperability between the U.S. and Allied partners.
“I love my job, it definitely requires attention to detail and a lot of coordination,” said Airman 1st Class Ryan Taylor, 31st LRS aircraft parts store apprentice. “In [the] supply [section], we account for all the tools, parts and paperwork needed to complete the mission, and it’s important we do it right to show our partners they can depend on us.”
Logistics Airmen coordinate and plan months prior to any exercise to ensure all requirements are captured for that event, especially the tactical level details that are usually forgotten or not necessarily considered, said Yee. From site-surveys to units staging cargo to cargo actually being uploaded onto trucks or aircraft and then taking off, these plans are critical to mission success.
“Making any event such as AK21 a success requires a ton of deliberate, thoughtful planning through in-person communication and good teamwork by understanding the goals and requirements of each participating unit,” Yee said.
The 31st LRS consists of four flights covering Fuels Management, Materiel Management, Vehicle Management, and Deployment and Distribution, and exercises like AK21 provides Wyvern Nation with the opportunity to strengthen the communication and capabilities between the U.S., host nations and NATO Allies.
Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the Aviano Air Base website.