Yongsan Garrison, Republic of Korea --
From inside a command tent, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Huffman, an air mobility liaison officer stationed in Yongsan Garrison, Republic of Korea, squints his eyes against the light of the many laptops sitting in front of him.
“Look at all of these air mobility requests,” he said, pointing to a slew of emails crowding his inbox. “Each one of these requests represents the sustainment of Soldiers around the Republic of Korea for Warfighter 18-2.”
Huffman is one of seven 621st Contingency Response Wing air mobility liaison officers, embedded with seven different U.S. Army units across ROK with direct liaison authority for air mobility. These AMLOs work together to prioritize airflow for the entire area of operation, acting as an advocate for their U.S. Army unit, a vital element to the exercise environment.
Warfighter is a part of a continuous exercise schedule designed to strengthen the U.S.-ROK alliance and create training experiences. These exercises enable the U.S. Army's senior mission commanders to develop current, relevant, and campaign quality, joint and expeditionary mission command instincts and skills.
“As an AMLO there are three specific things we do: we integrate with command and control advise on mobility issues, and operate landing zones and drop zones,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Joshua Armstrong, an AMLO attached to the U.S. Army I Corps stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. “We really fit into that advisory role especially during the sustainment and operations planning.”
According to Armstrong, AMLOs work within Army units at every level, like the I Corps.
“The Corps job is to shape the war ahead of the divisions,” he said. “We’re there as a sounding board for utilization of Air Force assets in terms of air, land, opening airfields, and emergency sustainment.”
“Everyone likes to see the [aircraft] landing in the dirt, off-loading cargo, the Army out shooting guns, tanks firing and destroying the enemy,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jason Ward, an AMLO assigned to the Mission Command Training Program in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. “In order to get to that point, you’ve got months and months of planning on exactly how you would get an Army force from the U.S. to wherever you’re going to be fighting.”
According to U.S. Army Maj. Jonathan Sohl, division transportation officer assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division stationed at Camp Casey, ROK, AMLOs provide additional options for airlift and directly providing support to maximize the amount of cargo delivered to the soldiers on the frontlines.
“The AMLO provides that immediate response during planning and execution so that we can get the supplies to the point of need with the right mode of transportation at the right time,” Sohl said.
According to U.S. Air Force Maj. Craig Carlson, an AMLO attached to the 2ID, liaison officers provide their expertise by helping to navigate potential airlift challenges. AMLOs bring their knowledge as aircrew members with firsthand experience in air mobility to communicate and operate directly on air mobility matters.
“You’re being challenged both organically and getting extra pressure and friction forced on you from above,” Carlson said. “It makes this job very important and very critical to be able to liaise between the proper elements and make sure that all of the right requirements are getting translated,” he said.
The unique capabilities of the trained and experienced AMLOs overcome the normal air mobility stovepipes. These AMLOS are able to provide direct liaison authority to offer the Army superior air options, increasing response times and supply delivery. Whether during an exercise like Warfighter, or in direct support of the real-world Joint Forceoperations, AMLOs are the cornerstone operators for global air mobility support.