Expeditionary Center commander visits 521 AMOG’s en route squadrons

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jake Bailey
  • U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center
Maj. Gen. Christopher Bence, U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center commander, recently completed a nine-day visit with the 521st Air Mobility Operations Group’s Total Force Airmen stationed at four squadrons pivotal to Air Mobility Command’s en route system—the 725th Air Mobility Squadron at Naval Station Rota, Spain; the 728th AMS at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey; and both the 5th and 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadrons in Southwest Asia.

Bence’s visit to each of the 521st AMOG’s geographically separated squadrons provided key coordination and planning with unit leadership to chart priorities and operational requirements, while also providing an important opportunity to thank Total Force service members and personnel for all that they do to enable Rapid Global Mobility.

“The 521st AMOG is a Total Force team of professionals that ensures high-speed velocity for air mobility operations all around the world,” Bence said. “The group’s four squadrons of active duty, guard, reserve, civilian, contractor and local national personnel play a vital role in providing that persistent en route presence on behalf of Air Mobility Command that is literally deployed in-place, allowing us to counter and defeat transregional threats.”

The 521st AMOG—headquartered at Naval Station Rota, Spain—provides combat-ready Airmen who safely and effectively perform aircraft maintenance, execute aerial port and aeromedical evacuation operations and provide command and control for operational requirements of the Air Transportation System. The group is one of two Air Mobility Operations Groups assigned to the 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing headquartered at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Through its four squadrons, the 521st AMOG is responsible for fixed en route support for air mobility operations throughout the EUCOM, CENTCOM, and AFRICOM areas of responsibility. Additionally, the group provides logistics, intelligence and air transportation planning to meet regional operational requirements.

Bence held squadron-wide all calls at each of the four locations he visited and fielded questions from the audience on a variety of current topics and priorities. A common theme emerged as he addressed each squadron—full spectrum readiness.

“Unlike other professional teams, we don’t get the luxury of a preseason or receive a set schedule in advance; we don’t know what the nature of the next game is going to be or where we are going to be called to make that next goal-line stand,” Bence said. “That’s why full spectrum readiness is our number one priority—we must be prepared and ready to meet and defeat any threat in any environment.”

Bence commended each squadron for their continued record of performance, enabling crucial operations throughout three key combatant commands.

“They’ve shown that they are ready time and again,” Bence said. “Whether leading the ordered departure of dependents from Incirlik, or projecting our nation’s forces into combat to defeat ISIS, the men and women of the 521st AMOG have delivered. I know they are trained and ready to continue generating Airpower from the ground up.”

In 2017, the 521st AMOG’s units generated approximately 7,000 C-17 missions and 700 C-5 missions, expedited 234,000 passengers, and pushed 152,000 tons of cargo. Much of that effort was directed towards delivering warfighting equipment, personnel and aircraft into the CENTCOM area of responsibility to defeat ISIS.

“We provide USTRANSCOM with some very unique operating locations--spread across three geographic combatant commands--that allow seamless support and delivery of vital cargo to the joint warfighter, when and where they need it,” said Col. Erik Hook, 521st AMOG commander. “Whether it's supporting a combat aviation brigade unit swap into Afghanistan from Rota, or directly delivering warfighting supplies and equipment to support Operation Inherent Resolve from Incirlik Air Base or Southwest Asia, the fingerprints of the 521st AMOG are all over current operations in EUCOM, CENTCOM and AFRICOM.”

Hook said the key to the group’s success has always been the professional men and women who execute the mission.

“Total Force is the way the Air Force has been doing business for years, and the en route system is no different,” Hook said. “With deployed squadrons in Southwest Asia and Qatar, an unaccompanied squadron at Incirlik, and a more traditional, accompanied squadron at Rota, we are a blended group of active duty, guard, reserve and civilian Airmen, along with our local national and contractor partners. Each one of the squadrons is different, and brings a unique set of variables to the table.”

Hook said the one constant across the 521st AMOG is the incredible work ethic of the Airmen and the ability for them to deliver Rapid Global Mobility on a daily basis.

Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Flambard, 521st AMOG, echoed Hook’s sentiment and said Bence’s visit to each of the four squadrons was a phenomenal opportunity for Airmen to hear the strategic outlook from a senior mobility leader.

“General Bence’s message clearly linked the value of persistent en route operations to Rapid Global Mobility and answered the ‘why’ for our Airmen as we accelerate towards full spectrum readiness,” Flambard said. “We truly appreciate the time he has invested in the 521st AMOG and we value the Expeditionary Center's support as we continue to innovate our processes and develop our Airmen going forward.”