AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates --
At Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, the 380th Expeditionary Operational Support Squadron is made up of different sections which work together to ensure flights go out. Each sections plays a critical role in the planning and execution of every mission.
Similar to checking the sky or a weather app before going to work, weather provides flying squadrons with the outside conditions in order to plan the day.
“In weather operations we are looking at the missions of the day and trying to identify risks based on the parameters,” said Tech. Sgt. Kyle Lyons, 380th EOSS NCOIC of weather operations. “We have a list for each aircraft with specific parameters that are either go or no go. We look at their plan mission for the day, the flying squadrons send us their planning schedule and flight plan for the day, time and locations. We then determine the threshold of whether it’s go or no go, what the risks are and communicate that to the flying squadrons so they can make plans based off that.”
They assist in planning by making weather mission products three times a day and providing them to the flying squadrons so they can get up to speed. The flying squadrons can also call if there are any questions and to validate statuses and to see if there are any changes.
“We’re not just looking at Al Dhafra, but the entire Area of Responsibility big picture wise to determine what’s going on,” added Lyons. “We are just a small piece of the puzzle but sometimes if the weather is bad we’re a larger piece of the puzzle.”
In order to plan and coordinate take-offs, airfield management provide updates about the runways and major projects so a flying plan can be made.
“All the flying units will submit their flight plans to us, we take those and either file them or send them to applicable agencies so they can get the proper clearance to take off,” said Airman 1st Class Jesse Meraz, 380th EOSS airfield management operations coordinator. “We make sure there’s no issues with their routing or times and keep track of what aircraft is leaving and the runway they are using.”
They also publish Notices to Airmen which advises all the flying units of airfield restrictions and airspace restrictions such as construction projects.
“We oversee the broad spectrum of air operations on the airfield, so if it isn’t safe we can address it along with tag teaming with safety to make sure everybody is safe,” said Tech. Sgt. Antwan Smith, 380th EOSS NCOIC of airfield management. “In Airfield Management, you are tied directly into the mission so you have your hands in everything that is happening on the airfield. In some form or fashion, we work with every squadron. We are a central agency to get all the information or to push information out to people.”
Planning also includes being prepared for worst case scenarios and this is where Aircraft Flight Equipment comes into play.
“AFE works all across the boards because we can go from intel all the way to maintenance to operations,” said Airman 1st Class Amanda Bordeleon, 380th EOSS AFE journeyman. “Our job is to make sure that if the aircrew needs to utilize the equipment that it works. There’s only one chance, it’s go or no go and we train with aircrews as well. I like interacting with the crews and hearing how some of their stories about how they’ve actually used our equipment. This comes back as what I’m doing can save somebody’s life.”
The oxygen systems and all of the auxiliary life-saving equipment on the aircraft must be ready to function at any time, because when it is needed, it’s too late to worry about whether the equipment has been replaced or is functioning correctly.
“We had an IFE over Germany a few years ago and all of our oxygen equipment was supporting even the military working dogs,” said Senior Airman Corey Stevick, 380th EOSS AFE journeyman. “All of our equipment fit right on the dog’s masks and all the personnel on board. They landed safely all because of everything we do. People are putting their lives in your hands in the event of an emergency, so it’s important that knowing that what you are doing is saving lives.”
Whether members are in friendly or hostile areas, AFE issues personal recovery kits on the way out the door to different agencies in case it is needed.
“What kind of defines them and identifies them is selfless service,” said Chief Master Sgt. Gregory Jennings, 380th EOSS AFE superintendent. “This is a career field of worst-case scenarios, so it’s not something that people are going to be singing their praises about on a daily basis. When something goes horribly wrong, and luckily it’s a rarity, that’s when these guys get noticed. They still bring that same passion on a daily basis even though they are not necessarily getting the same accolades. They are prepared for a worst-case scenario.”
To get an accurate understanding of the environment you must also know of any and all threats. This is where Wing Intelligence and Weapons and Tactics assist in the planning phase.
“We are an awareness function,” said 1st Lt. Harold Hayes, 380th EOSS officer in charge of wing intelligence. “Without us, there would be a majority of people who wouldn’t know what’s going on around them re garding inbound and outbound threats. We keep everyone aware, we help filter information through, we keep the Wing Commander informed and a lot of leadership aware as part of the notification process. We have various systems which can watch for various threats and we can kick start part of that process.”
Wing Intelligence combine their main duty of base defense procedures with wing outreach programs.
“In our wing outreach program we provide a lot of briefs detailing threat information to our base, to our guys operating in various location and detailing the fight against our enemies to various groups and squadrons on base,” added Hayes. “We coordinate, share and filter information between units on base.”
They work alongside Wing weapons and tactics to ensure proper use of tactical standards in the AOR.
“The job of weapons and tactics is to study and understand the commander’s intent and be able to tactically employ within his guidance,” said Maj. John Tannehill, chief of Wing weapons and tactics. “Making sure we are integrating with other wings across the theater that have F-15s, F-16s, tankers, and bombers to make sure we are all employing in accordance with the same standards and that any departure from the standards are thoroughly debriefed so we can correct our tactical employment. One of the most critical things we provide is a continuous assessment of that tactical employment, so without us, you would lose that assessment which provides us the capability to provide for the next Air Tasking Order day.”
To ensure aircraft can take-off at ADAB, flight plans are coordinated with the host nation through the air traffic coordinators.
“As an air traffic control liaison we are there for every step of the process,” said Senior Airman Katelynn Kay, 380th EOSS air traffic control liaison. “We start by making sure airfield management is on the same page with the host nation’s base operations, and all the flight plans are together so the aircraft can take off at appropriate times. We also make sure all the airspaces are coordinated with our base ops to make sure that all the timeframes that the aircraft need to leave are going to work out.”
Similar to how they coordinate with the host nation, they also responsible for coordinating base emergency services during emergencies.
“If we have a ground emergency or an In-Flight Emergency on the air traffic side for the U.S., we coordinate with airfield management, fire department and medical to make sure that everything is being taken care of as fast and efficiently as possible,” added Kay.
Thanks to the ability of the different sections to work together, 380th EOSS continues to be a vital part of the mission from planning to execution.