Contingency Response airmen hone humanitarian assistance and disaster relief knowledge through humanitarian operations course

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Bradlee Seehawer
  • 321st Air Mobility Operations Squadron

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The 321st Air Mobility Operations Squadron hosted the United States Agency for International Development during their Joint Humanitarian Operations Course at Travis Air Force Base, California, April 23-24.

Since 2011, the squadron has been honing its knowledge of humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) operations. In March of 2011, a devastating 9.0 earthquake struck off the coast of Japan. Within days “Masterminds” from the 321 AMOS deployed to establish Joint Support Forces – Japan and execute Operation TOMODACHI, the HA/DR mission to bring fuel and supplies into the country. Coordinating with USAID, 621st Contingency Response Wing airfield assessment teams, and other “Masterminds” located at the 613th Air Operations Center at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, AMOS airmen helped plan nearly 350 missions delivering 4.2 million pounds of supplies to Japan.

USAID is the United States’ lead for international disaster assistance, reaching tens of millions of people around the world with life-saving aid. Of the approximately 70 foreign disasters USAID supports each year, roughly 10% require the unique capabilities of the Department of Defense. The course was developed to teach key military personnel how the U.S. government responds to international disasters and the role the military has in supporting them.

Approximately 25 airmen from the 321st AMOS and 821st Contingency Response Group attended the two-day course. Contingency response airmen have historically been tasked to support HA/DR missions, opening and operating airfields. Between the AMOS’s ability to plan and execute airlift missions and the contingency response squadron’s ability to offload and support aircraft at the airfield, the AMOS and CRS have a complementary partnership that can be traced back to the Vietnam War. Together, they comprise an important part of Air Mobility Command’s Global Air Mobility Support System, ensuring the United States can project people, cargo, and equipment around the globe to deliver hope to those who need it.

"Just understanding how the military plays a supporting role in humanitarian relief operations was surprising to me." Lt. Col. Kevin Monaghan, 321 AMOS aeromedical evacuation control team chief said. "The contingency response wing and USAID share a lot of similarities in how we deploy. This common understanding will expedite getting foreign relief to where it's needed most."