Mobility support team enables Mobility Guardian success

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Behind the scenes of Exercise Mobility Guardian, logistics, maintenance and aerial port personnel worked around the clock to enable exercise operations and mission execution.

A flying schedule was built during the beginning stages of planning the exercise, leaving it up to mobility support Airmen to put the pieces of the puzzle together. In the end, the mission capable rate was 92.1 percent.

“A lot of the maintainers, logisticians and port guys just have not seen this amount of sorties and cargo being pushed in such a short amount of time,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Tim Dodson, Mobility Guardian Joint Staff logistics director. “We were able to test our capabilities with that, and when you see the numbers, I think they did a really good job.

Logistics was one of the most important pieces of the exercise. Everything from cargo and fuel to contracts with international participants had to be planned and monitored before and during the exercise.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jeremy Robine, Mobility Guardian Aerial Port subject matter expert, said he spent more than a year prior to the exercise coordinating cargo requirements. One of the exercise’s goals was to airdrop 1,000 Container Delivery System bundles. This meant enough equipment had to be procured to meet the requirements.

Robine also worked extensively with U.S. Army Soldiers from here and the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to secure riggers for building CDS bundles, paratroopers for a joint forcible entry exercise and heavy equipment for airdrops, he said.

Another piece of the logistics puzzle involved U.S. Air Force Capt. Brandon Langel, Mobility Guardian logistics lead.

Langel’s main priorities were estimating the amount of fuel required for the exercise and ensuring there was enough available, along with making sure supply codes were established and funded for both U.S. and international aircraft, he said. Extra fuel trucks and personnel were sourced to support the exercise, and in total, Mobility Guardian used 3 million gallons of fuel.

During the planning process, Langel encountered a variety of challenges that required innovative solutions.

“Kind of late in the game we discovered that two of our participants didn’t actually have an agreement with the U.S. to receive fuel and parts, so we had to work with the Defense Logistics Agency and the different units to establish processes,” said Langel.

“One of the participants could only do cash sales for every fuels transaction, so we had to arrange that through the base to process the money,” he continued. “The other one we had to hurriedly get approval to make a charge-card account. So far, it’s worked flawlessly.”

The maintenance team was another behind-the-scenes component of the exercise. Senior Master Sgt. Michael Chapman, Mobility Guardian maintenance SME, and U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Charlie Neal, Mobility Guardian maintenance tasking functional, both managed the maintenance requirements.

One of their largest tasks was configuring a parking plan for the aircraft on the ramps, as the number of aircraft expected to attend the exercise continually changed during planning, said Chapman.

Obtaining the right amount of maintainers to support the aircraft was crucial for mission success. In the end, nearly 700 maintainers worked to make the exercise a success, said Neal.

“It’s been challenging, but very rewarding,” said Neal. “It wouldn’t be an exercise if it didn’t have its challenges; otherwise, why would you even have an exercise? It’s about seeing if you can do it, and we’re doing it.”

These three pieces of the mobility support team made Exercise Mobility Guardian possible by ensuring aircraft were airworthy and had the equipment and personnel they needed to complete the mission.

Because of their dedication, refueling aircraft offloaded roughly 1.2 million pounds of fuel; aerial port personnel processed 3,676 passengers and 4,911 tons of equipment; and crews airdropped 356 paratroopers, 33 heavy platforms and nearly 300 CDS bundles.