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386 AEW and coalition partners reopen runway, enhance mission capabilities

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Dalton Williams, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs Office

Military personnel from the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kuwait Air Force and coalition partners gathered on the newly renovated South runway for a ribbon cutting ceremony at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, October 13, 2022.

This event was the culmination of countless hours of hard work for coalition partnership to repair the South runway and taxiway for aircraft on Ali Al Salem. This runway will enable future mission success for years to come and is symbolic of the fruits of joint and coalition teamwork between.

“Through a lot of coordination, the construction teams were able to overcome many challenges, including scheduled supply chain disruptions and various force protection considerations to make this a fully functional airfield,” said Lt. Col. Richard Childers, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Expeditionary District commander. “I'd like to thank you for your efforts in bringing this project to fruition by overcoming these challenges in the context of a global pandemic.”

Taking a moment to reflect on those that had a hand in its construction, Col. George Buch Jr., 386th Air Expeditionary Wing commander, spoke on the hard work that went into every piece of the project.

“This is really about gratitude,” said Buch. “A ton of hard work went into this. It all comes down to teamwork, because this cannot happen without a great team and partnerships. Whether that’s service partners or coalition partners, it's a magnificent amount of work to get this into place. I cannot wait to take off and land on this thing.”

Coordination and efficient teamwork from every team was paramount from day one in order for the project to happen.

“The Kuwaitis were a big help for paving the runway,” said Tech. Sgt. Chance Cunningham, 557th Expeditionary Red Horse Squadron pavements and heavy equipment construction craftsman. “Specifically when they were operating the paver equipment, that took a lot of workload and stress off of us, so we could focus more on fine tuning things like working around the light cans on the runway for instance.”

The benefits of this construction project are almost too many to count. The aircraft arresting systems installed give a greater chance of survivability to vital combat aircraft and the pilots in case of emergency. The paved shoulders of the flightline act as an important defense against Foreign Object Debris. The light cans installed and lines painted on the flightline increase visibility for pilots and night operation safety. The hammerheads that were constructed at the ends of the south runway, basically aircraft turnaround points, significantly mitigate taxing time for all aircraft. All of these add up to increased mission capabilities for the 386th AEW and its mission partners.

“Our capability has increased one hundred percent,” said 2nd Lt. Joshua Werfel, 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron construction management officer-in-charge. “We now have two runways where aircraft can land. This impacts every flying mission that we have here. This means we can continue the current level of operations and exceed that current number.”

The hard work poured into this project by Airmen and mission partners, past and present, have established a permanent fixture of future mission success and built a cornerstone of our enduring presence.