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15th EAS resupplies CENTCOM assets

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Leon Redfern
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 15th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, deploying almost entirely from Joint Base Charleston, S.C. conducted combat airdrop operations from Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, June 15, 2023.

During the routine mission, the C-17A Globemaster III crew displayed Agile Combat Employment (ACE) capabilities by delivering life-saving supplies to several forward operating bases throughout the U.S. Central Command’s (CENTCOM) area of responsibility (AOR).

Delivering cargo by airdrop reduces the time ground forces are exposed to combat, while greatly accelerating the process of transporting cargo compared to ground resupply methods.

“These operations may pose a greater risk to our members on the aircraft, but they significantly decrease the overall risk to U.S. forces by eliminating the need for large vehicle convoys and the threat posed by exposure to hostile actors,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Brad Fisher, 15th EAS commander.

The combined efforts between the U.S. Army 165th Quartermaster Company who rigs and constructs the cargo bundles, the 15th EAS who conducts the delivery, and the 15th EAS aircraft maintenance team who ensure each aircraft is properly inspected and maintained before takeoff, results in the successful resupply of mission critical assets to warfighters on the ground.

“The reward of my first combat drop as the aircraft commander was an exhilarating sense of accomplishment, knowing that my team and I had successfully executed the mission and provided support to front-line warfighters," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Sam Braun, 15th EAS aircraft commander.

As the only unit in CENTCOM utilizing the C-17 to conduct combat airdrop missions, the 15th EAS is capable of providing a myriad of assets to locations throughout the CENTCOM AOR, including combat vehicles.

“This month, our team delivered M1A2 Abrams tanks around the Middle East during exercises to demonstrate how quickly the U.S. can generate combat power,” Fisher said. “We also partnered with 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron several times to transform our aircraft into flying hospitals and conduct emergency medical evacuations of wounded U.S. service members to lifesaving care a whole continent away. Now, a few days later, these same Airmen are keeping U.S. forces out of harm’s way by dropping almost thirty thousand pounds of life-sustaining supplies directly to forward operating bases.”

Whether airlifting supplies, patients, or tanks, the 15th EAS is prepared to execute the mission and increase survivability while generating combat power.

“We aren’t sure what tomorrow will bring, but the Airmen of the 15th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron who support, fix, and fly the C-17A are ready for it – whatever and wherever it is,” Fisher said.

The C-17’s operated during these missions are versatile aircraft that were purpose-built for ACE, a proactive and reactive operational scheme of maneuver executed within threat timelines to increase survivability while generating combat power.