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Unit supports airlift mission vital to US, coalition forces in Afghanistan

By By Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

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June 22, 2015 — BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan, June 22, 2015 - Airmen of the 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron, or EAMS, have the responsibility of getting cargo and personnel moved in and out of Afghanistan using C-5 and C-17 aircraft, doing their best every day to live up to the unit motto of “You Need It….WE MOVE IT!”

In order to accomplish their mission, 8th EAMS airmen assigned to detachments here and at Kandahar Air Field provide the critical maintenance these aircraft need to keep the strategic airlift mission going.

“The 8th EAMS provides the C-5 and C-17 maintenance to keep our strategic airlift platforms moving to and from Afghanistan,” said Lt. Col. Jesse Baker, 8th EAMS commander. “This enables the resupply of U.S. and coalition partners working in Afghanistan and is a vital component to ensuring expeditious aeromedical evacuation capability is available when required.”

“The detachments' mission is to provide maintenance to all in-route and transient C-17 aircraft that land at Bagram,” said Master Sgt. Doug Fielding, C-17 maintenance mitigation team production superintendent. “The aircraft bring much needed cargo, personnel and supplies to aid the mission here at Bagram.”

Having the maintenance airmen stationed at detachments in Afghanistan allows for issues to be quickly resolved so the airlift mission can continue.

“Over the last 12 months, the detachments in Kandahar and Bagram have supported over 4,000 C-5 and C-17 missions,” said Baker. “In addition to providing general maintenance assistance to ensure maximum velocity of transit, they performed 172 unscheduled maintenance actions to fix aircraft that broke for a variety of reasons."

“It’s impossible to quantify in dollars the service they provide to the overall mobility mission, but had they not been here we would have had C-5 and C-17 aircraft sitting broken on the ground for days waiting for qualified maintenance personnel to arrive from Europe or the U.S,” said Baker. “This would invariably drive increased (temporary duty) rates for maintenance personnel, degrade overall mobility system efficiency and create additional risk of damage from repeated airfield attacks.”

“Without strategic airlift, the coalition would be solely reliant on commercial air cargo carriers or be forced to move all cargo via ground,” said Baker. “In some cases, the commercial carriers are unable to operate due to the threat environment or airfield limitations. Moving all cargo by ground would significantly increase the risk to mission by exposing more personnel to the dangers of ground convoys through interception or improvised explosive devices.”