• Published
  • By Lt. Col. Brad Seehawer
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs

The 321st Air Mobility Operations Squadron is used to being the mobility command and control experts in Air Operations Centers, but recently they served as mobility experts on a ship, too, as three members of the squadron boarded the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) on Oct 28th to observe the Multi-Large Deck Event (MLDE) in the Philippine Sea.


The MLDE was a bilateral exercise that saw two Carrier Strike Groups and a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer conduct coordinated surface and air operations in a complex maritime environment to demonstrate the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s ability to deliver a powerful maritime force. The members of the 321 AMOS met with naval aviators to gain an understanding of how the ship provides command and control of their aircraft and how they liaise with the Air Force to request air refueling. As one of the squadron’s core mission sets, the 321 AMOS provides operational planning experts to support Combatant Commander Air Refueling Control Teams during exercises and contingency operations.


“The biggest takeaway was understanding how the Navy thinks versus how the Air Force thinks,” said Air Refueling Control Team Chief Maj. David Kilpatrick. “It’s much more dynamic – the ship is moving, the airport is moving. The destination could change at any point.”


The change in environment has some important strategic implications for the future of the 321 AMOS.


“For nearly 50 years the Masterminds have been command and control experts on demand, ready to support Air Operations Centers whenever and wherever we’re needed,” said Lt Col Brad Seehawer, 321 AMOS Operations Officer. “As we look forward to the future fight, we want to be able to offer Rapid Global Mobility no matter the venue, inside of a traditional AOC, at home from our Weapons System Suite, or while sailing the open seas.”


Back on land, the squadron continues to explore venues in which to operate, ensuring that air mobility effects can be provided regardless of the threat environment.


“Having someone on the ship who can speak Air Force as the Navy is operating will be hugely valuable,” said Kilpatrick. “It allows us to project power farther away and be more agile.”