Cargo City: CENTCOM’s heartbeat of supply Published Jan. 4, 2024 By Airman 1st Class Caleb Parker U.S. Air Forces Central UNDISCLOSED LOCATION, Southwest Asia -- From security forces Airmen who protect and defend to civil engineers that are on call 24/7 to make critical repairs to systems and infrastructure, Cargo City never sleeps. Cargo City, a detachment of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing here, moves three-quarters of all assets, supplies and personnel into the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. A team of about 200 U.S. Airmen, Soldiers and DOD contractors provide the heartbeat of this operation. Every month they process about 7,000 new personnel as well as 625 tons - roughly equivalent to the weight of three blue whales - of crucial food, equipment and supplies essential for troops to fulfill the ongoing U.S. mission of regional security and stability. Before a shipment flies into Cargo City, it must get clearance through the Air Mobility Command Center. Arrival times for cargo are staggered appropriately to ensure efficient offloading and transition. “We are the operational hub of Cargo City’s installation, and we are also the go between (for) the different shops here and higher headquarters,” said Matthew Schoemehl, the AMCC manager contractor for the U.S. Air Force. “We also keep track of all the cargo and the personnel that come in for their missions.” While Schoemehl and his team schedule the incoming and outgoing cargo, Denitria Hayes, a traffic manager specialist contractor for the U.S. Army, keeps track of all the cargo transported by truck to nearby bases. “As gatekeepers to the gateway, we monitor every asset before its arrival,” said Hayes. “For example, the trucks that come through here to pick up the cargo, we will know about it before they get here. Before they leave, we get eyes on what they are carrying and make sure they have the proper documentation before they leave.” With cargo consistently flying in and out, a handful of personnel make sure the rest of the base’s personnel, buildings and equipment are maintained and mission ready. Due to Cargo City being geographically separated from other larger bases, the majority of personnel must drive to the city to fulfill their responsibilities every day. Despite this logistical hurdle, Cargo City remains ready to move essential resources all across the region. Not all units in Cargo City are directly involved in moving shipments, but they all contribute. From maintenance to infrastructure, security, fire protection and morale-boosting endeavors, they help sustain the mission. Fire protection and security forces Airmen hold the frontline for the safety and defense of Cargo City, providing rapid response to medical and fire emergencies while patrolling and safeguarding base personnel and cargo. The civil engineers focus on maintaining the city's infrastructure and conducting regular inspections to preemptively address issues so that the base can run operations safely. “While other people are moving cargo and important assets, we keep everything else running,” said Staff Sgt. Devyn Deluca, an infrastructures superintendent with the 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron. “We keep the lights on and water moving to make sure the mission stays moving.” As the civil engineers upkeep the city's facilities, the 386th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron provides meals to ensure the well-being of personnel, maintains the gym, and hosts morale events. “Every rotation tries to come up with something new to keep morale up,” said Senior Airman Andrew Acheaempong, a services specialist with the 386th EFSS. “We host events that bring people together. Seeing people happy when we put together a bonfire or a movie night means we did our job.” With morale and meals provided, the 386th Expeditionary Communication Squadron maintains the secure exchange of information. “We support everybody whether it's direct or indirect communication support,” said Senior Airman Daniel Bernier, a communications specialist with the 386th ECS. “If people are having issues with assets like computers or radios, we will fix it if we can and, if we can't, we'll replace it to ensure Cargo City doesn't stop.” Cargo City thrives with each unit contributing to the mission's success day in, day out. Although their impact may not always be obvious, the collective effort resonates across the AOR.