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18 hours on Green Ramp: air mobility's command support of the 82nd Airborne Division Ready Brigade; deploy worldwide within 18 hours of notification, execute parachute assault, conduct combat operations, and win.

From 1998 to 2000, I had the privilege of supporting a major piece of our national power projection capability, the 82nd Airborne Division Ready Brigade (DRB) from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Outload of the division occurs on the Green Ramp, located on Pope AFB, North Carolina (collocated with Fort Bragg). During this time, I developed an intense respect for the troops of the [82.sup.d] as they shuffled day after day; night after night; through rain, bitter cold, and stifling heat, awaiting aircraft on Green Ramp.


Force does not exist for mobility, but mobility for force.

Alfred Thayer Mahan

Tucked quietly away in a corner of the Pope AFB flight line is the Green Ramp, described as a precious national asset by one recent wing commander. (1) Since the Vietnam War, members of the [82.sup.d] have departed from Pope in support of many significant military operations. Unfortunately, the US military now is not the same force that fought so effectively in the deserts of Southwest Asia 10 years ago. For example, recent figures on current military airlift capacity project a shortfall ranging from 17 to 30 percent, (2) causing significant concern regarding the Air Force's ability to support national security objectives. A vital concern, directly related, is the ability of Air Mobility Command (AMC) units at Pope AFB to effectively support DRB's 18-hour contingency deployment requirement.

The Mission

An understanding of the [82.sup.d] Airborne Division's mission will aid appreciation of the readiness challenge that AMC faces in providing support for the DRB. This mission, simply stated, is: "Deploy worldwide within 18 hours of notification, execute parachute assault, conduct combat operations, and win." (3) Upon receiving a call from XVIII Airborne Corps Headquarters, the [82.sup.d] issues an alert order to the on-call DRB. Within 18 hours, elements of the DRB must be in the air in support of vital US national interests anywhere in the world. Twenty-four hours a day, 7 days a week, 52-weeks a year, a contingent of the [82.sup.d], identified as DRB-1, remains on alert (Figure 1). The division is built around three airborne brigades. Each brigade, in turn, is based on a reinforced parachute regiment. A former commander, Major General James H. Johnson, aptly described the [82.sup.d] as "the only US combined arms force with a capability to conduct forced entry and secure an area, while building enough combat power to fight, sustain itself, and win the initial battle." (4)

The Air Force provides airlift support in the form of strategic airdrop. Outload of the DRB occurs on Green Ramp. Pope AFB has been an AMC asset since its transfer from Air Combat Command (ACC) on 1 April 1997. Before the transfer, the 624th Air Mobility Support Group (AMSG) provided primary support to the brigade. The 624 AMSG consisted of three primary elements--command and control, the [3.sup.d] Aerial Port Squadron (APS), and the 624th Maintenance Squadron (MXS)--operating under the umbrella of the AMC en route system. Currently, the [43.sup.d] Operations Group (OG) En Route Support Section, 3 APS, and 743 MXS provide support for the brigade. Despite similarities in organizational structure, the transition from ACC to AMC had an adverse effect on determining readiness to support the brigade.

Recent Operations

Joint Vision 2020 continues to stress the importance of overseas basing in meeting national security objectives but also places greater emphasis on continental United States (CONUS)-based power projection capabilities. (6) The effectiveness of the DRB during recent operations reinforces current operational concepts espoused by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). Two of the more notable conflicts supported by the brigade were Operations Just Cause and Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

Operation Just Cause. On 17 December 1989, an alert order was transmitted to the [82.sup.d], using an emergency readiness deployment exercise as deception cover. The rapidly deteriorating situation in Panama had convinced the President and Secretary of Defense that it was time to act. The final Air Force package supporting the DRB portion of outload operations on Green Ramp consisted of 51 C-141 aircraft (20 for people, 28 for heavy equipment, and 3 container delivery system [CDS] aircraft). There were minor problems during the initial phases of the deployment, compounded by the fact the deploying DRB had just changed from the 3d to the 1St Brigade. However, it was loaded within 24 hours, with the first aircraft fully loaded in 10 hours. (7) In the early morning hours of 20 December 1989, the air assault on Panama began. An effective combination of airborne, helicopter, and ground assaults on multiple objectives quickly ended the hostilities. The early morning assault originated primarily from CONUS bases and was the largest personnel airdrop since the Korean War and the largest nighttime parachute assault in history. (8)

Operation Desert Shield/Storm. Elements of the [82.sup.d] began returning home from Panama in January 1990. However, their respite from operational deployment was short-lived. In early August 1990, Iraq invaded and quickly overran Kuwait. As Iraqi armored divisions stood poised on the border of Saudi Arabia, America's response was debated. On 6 August, King Fahd requested assistance, and President Bush quickly responded. The logical choice for an initial response was a rapidly deployable, light ground force. The [2.sup.d] Brigade of the [82.sup.d], on call as the DRB, was ordered to Kuwait. The first C- 141 aircraft transporting the brigade was airborne less than 14 hours after official notification. (9)

Elements of the [82.sup.d] were the first ground troops in Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield. Consequently, they were assigned the task of protecting the airfield and ports needed to receive US and coalition forces. General Norman Schwarzkopf described the role of the DRB: "The [82.sup.d] was nothing more than a tripwire force. It was a show of resolve, a way to say to the Iraqis, If you run down the highway, by the way, you are at war with the United States." (10) The brigade accomplished its mission and remained deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm, the eventual ground war that resulted in the liberation of Kuwait.

There are many organizations within the Department of Defense responsible for the success of the [82.sup.d]. This article reviews only three organizations supporting Green Ramp operations today: 3 APS, 743 MXS, and 43 OG En Route Support Section with primary focus on current readiness to meet support requirements as delineated by the XVIII Airborne Corps and the [82.sup.d].

The success of the DRB concept during Operations Just Cause and Desert Shield/Storm is well-documented and hard to dispute. However, the simple reality that the US military does not currently maintain the same robust capabilities it did a decade ago is also hard to dispute. Not surprisingly, force reductions and other developments during the last 10 years have resulted in significant changes to the organizations on Green Ramp. Can these units still provide the required support for the DRB? In fact, do we even have a system in place to measure their readiness?

Current Support Requirements

Leaped to their feet a thousand men, their voices echoing far and near: "We go, we care not where or when; our country calls us; we are here!"

Author Unknown, 27 April 1861 (to the New York 7th Regiment)

Understanding the DRB process and requisite support for Green Ramp operations represents a crucial first step toward determining readiness. For example, airlift support requirements for the DRB vary depending on the nature of the operation. While performing as DRB- 1, the assigned battalions are on 6-week rotation schedules (Figure 2). One battalion is designated Division Ready Force-1 (DRF-1). Battalion personnel prerig all DRF-1 unit equipment for airdrop and transport it to a prestaging area, where it awaits loading onto aircraft. Equipment preparation conforms to requirements of a standard loading process, awaiting customization during the 18-hour sequence, based on mission requirements."

By default, Air Force support requirements depend primarily on the nature of the contingency being supported by the DRB. One of the most critical requirement areas-the different types of aircraft loads or missions-drives personnel training, equipment procurement, and other support requirements at Pope AFB for organizations that support Green Ramp operations. Clear identification of these requirements helps ensure development of effective methods to determine the unit's readiness to support the DRB.

Aircraft Mission Type

Mission planners base requirements on four primary load types: personnel, container delivery system (CDS), heavy equipment, and airland. This load type affects readiness issues such as aircraft availability, support equipment, and training. Additional considerations include aircrew availability, command and control, and aircraft parking. Strategic airlift and tanker aircraft combine to provide capability to respond on a moment's notice anywhere around the globe. C-141, C-5, and C-17 aircraft provide strategic airlift support, and C-130 aircraft provide tactical airlift support.

Passenger Aircraft. The C-130E Hercules can transport 64 fully equipped paratroopers in side-facing seats, and the newer C-130J-30 model can accommodate 92 fully equipped paratroopers. (13) The C-141 Starlifter can carry 155 paratroopers but is rapidly approaching the end of its service life. When it retires, the C-17 Globemaster III will provide the primary support to the DRB. The new Dual Row Airdrop System-which uses a two-row, side-by-side rail system- supports 102 fully equipped paratroopers (Figures 3 and 4). In contrast to the C-130, the C-17 can make direct delivery to forward operating bases from aerial ports in the CONUS.

Container Delivery System. Advantages of the container delivery system include increased accuracy, fewer rigging requirements, and minimal materiel-handling equipment (MHE) requirements for loading. A-22 containers are normally used to package items rigged for container delivery systems, with loads ranging from 250 to 2,200 pounds. The C-l30E/H is capable of airdropping up to 16 A-22 containers at a time, and the C-130J-30 is capable of airdropping up to 24. The C-141 and C-17 are both capable of airdropping up to 40 A-22 containers. (15)

Heavy Equipment. The heavy equipment delivery system is capable of delivering larger and heavier loads than the container delivery system. With heavy equipment airdrops, the user is responsible for rigging the loads, a labor-intensive process requiring specialized materials. In contrast to the CDS method, however, heavy equipment requires significant MHE capability. Both the C-130 and C-141 are capable of delivering loads up to 42,500 pounds with the heavy equipment method, and the C-17 can deliver up to 60,000 pounds.

Airland. Aircraft, using the airland method, land at the forward operating location and unload cargo and personnel. It is the safest and most efficient delivery method in terms of cargo delivered and availability for return cargo. Using the airland method takes approximately 29 hours to deploy the DRB. (16) The C-130, C-17, C-141, and C-S are all capable of using the airland method.

Current DRB Airdrop Requirements

The DRB requirement in fiscal year 1997 consisted of a formation of 64 C-141 aircraft: 24 for people, 38 for heavy equipment, and 2 for container delivery systems, with a 27-minute pass time. (17) However, upon retirement of the C-141, the C-17 is primed to assume the DRB support role. One recent projection for DRB support in fiscal year 2004 consisted of 71 C-17 aircraft, with 24 for people, 45 for heavy equipment, and 2 for container delivery systems. (18) Finally, the C-130 can adequately support DRB requirements for nearby operations that do not require aerial refueling.

AMC recently completed three initiatives designed to ensure the ability of the C-17 to meet the Army's 30-minute, pass-time requirement. In addition to installing the Dual Row Airdrop System and new equipment to facilitate tighter formations during inclement weather, personnel at Pope AFB conducted airdrop testing of reduced spacing between aircraft during personnel airdrops. (20) These initiatives enable the C-17 to conform to the Army's minimum, tactical insertion-time requirement and reduce the total number of heavy equipment aircraft required from 45 to 25.

Pope AFB Support Requirements

Command and Control. A number of people perform command and control functions on Green Ramp. Controllers are assigned to the outload support section of the 43 OG. The deputy operations group commander for joint operations provides oversight. Two Army officers provide ongoing interface with the [82.sup.d]: the assistant chief of staff, operations and plans (G3) for air and the G3 airlift coordination officer (ALCO), formerly known as the ground liaison officer.

Station Capability. Maximum on ground (MOG) and hot spot aircraft parking capability are two key areas that affect the ability to support the DRB. MOG is the number of aircraft (of a given weapon system) personnel can work simultaneously. It is based on several factors, including parking ramp space, maintenance servicing, and cargo-loading capability. It can be improved through personnel augmentation and by freeing up parking ramp space. For example, using the entire airfield at Pope increases the MOG to 63 C-141s, 25 C-5s ,or 61 C-17s. (21)

Hot-spot parking is another issue that affects a base's ability to support the DRB. Safety concerns preclude aircraft transporting explosives (hot cargo) from parking near facilities or major thoroughfares. Pope has four primary hot-cargo parking spots, all located across the runway from Green Ramp, for items such as 105-millimeter ammunition, blasting caps, C-4, and small arms ammunition. (22) Additional parking spots on Green Ramp are sited for 1.3- and 1.4-net-explosive weight items, such as flares and some small arms ammunition.

Aerial Port and Aircraft Maintenance. The 3 APS and 743 MXS are the two biggest force providers on Green Ramp. From initial touchdown at Pope AFB to departure, the personnel ensure aircraft are fully mission capable and safely loaded for transport of the DRB.

Miscellaneous Support. Many organizations on Pope operate behind the scenes, providing support to the DRB. For example, the [43.sup.d] Support Group provides billeting, food services, security forces, fire department, and communications. The 43 OG provides intelligence support, air-traffic control, and weather. Transportation, supply, contracting, and additional maintenance support is provided by the [43.sup.d] Logistics Group, and the [43.sup.d] Medical Group coordinates all medical support.

En Route Support Structure

Through mobility we conquer.

Motto, The Cavalry School, Fort Riley, Kansas, c. 1930

AMC defines the en route system as "an interdependent global network of manpower, material, and facilities that provide command and control, maintenance, and aerial port services to air mobility forces performing AMC worldwide missions." (23) With the dissolution of the 624 AMSG in 1997, Pope AFB ceased to function as an en route location. However, despite changes in manpower and organizational structure, Green Ramp's mission continued relatively unchanged. Interestingly, the functions of the organizations supporting this mission continue to mirror those that still define the AMC en route system.

Command and Control

The 624 AMSG used 44 manpower authorizations to accomplish the command and control function on Green Ramp. The current organizational structure reduced this number to 23, dispersed between the 43 OG, wing command post, 3 APS, [43.sup.d] Operations Support Squadron, and wing plans and programs offices. (24) The 43 OG Deputy for Joint Operations is the focal point for en route activities. However, this position lacks the necessary authority to ensure unity of effort for the organizations supporting the DRB and clear guidance for determining readiness.

Several different offices on Pope perform command and control functions for operations on Green Ramp. These responsibilities mirror AMC en route guidance: "timely and accurate flow of information, and direction of operations relating to mission movement, aircrew status, aircraft status, load configurations, loading of passengers and cargo, and coordination with host base services." (25) Primary command and control functions are coordinated by the [43.sup.d] Airlift Wing (AW) Command Post, including indirect support such as contracting, billeting, and transportation. This facility contains the operations management controllers, Maintenance Activities Coordination Center (MACC), ALCO, 3 APS Information Controller, and Emergency Action Cell. Personnel from the operations support squadron develop the aircraft parking plan, ensuring MOG is not exceeded on Green Ramp. The MACC coordinates and documents all logistics activities.

The G3 ALCO is a critical link in the support process, with responsibility for "liaison and coordination between Army and Air Force operational and support elements for all inbound and outbound aircraft using Pope AFB." (26) The ALCO mans two positions in the command post, collocated with the command post controllers, and provides a vital link between all elements involved in airlift operations, including supported units assigned to the XVIII Airborne Corps, [82.sup.d] Airborne Division, Army Special Operations Command, and all supporting active duty and reserve Air Force units. (27) An in-depth understanding of the capabilities of both Army and Air Force assets is required to ensure the success of joint operations.

[3.sup.d] Aerial Port Squadron

All aircraft upload and download activities conducted on Pope AFB are controlled by 3 APS. The primary mission of the unit is "to operate a fixed tactical air terminal facility supporting airland and aerial delivery of personnel and equipment." (28) The air terminal operates 24 hours a day providing support to the XVIII Airborne Corps, [82.sup.d] Airborne Division, Joint Special Operations Command, host wing, Headquarters AMC, Tanker/Airlift Control Center, Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed exercises, Air Reserve component, and humanitarian and contingency missions. Ongoing joint airborne/air transportability training (JA/ATT) events are also supported by 3 APS.

Its mission is unique, earning it the nickname "The All-American Port." Unit capability includes providing:

...passenger and cargo onload and offload support to all AMC and commercial aircraft, command and control, load planning, fixed heavy equipment scales, joint inspections, joint airdrop inspections, staircase requirements, rigging and recovery for wing training loads, all required fleet service requirements and space available travel service. (29)

Requirements are normally coordinated through the air terminal operations center. Augmentation is required when the MOG exceeds 5 aircraft in 5 hours for airdrop missions and 9-12 aircraft for airland. (30)

Providing support to such a wide variety of missions and aircraft poses many challenges to the unit. Consequently, training must focus on different types of loads, utilizing different types of materiel-handling equipment, on several different airframes, while ensuring compatibility with Army equipment and materials. An example of the challenges faced by leadership is the large number of inspectors required to conduct joint airdrop inspections (JAI) due to the mission of the XVIII Airborne Corps, and the [82.sup.d]. After an aircraft is loaded, joint airdrop inspections must be conducted in the presence of the user and a qualified Air Force representative. MHE capability increased dramatically in recent years with procurement of the 60K Tunner aircraft loader. AMC also plans to procure 264 Next-Generation Small Loaders, as the remaining 25K loaders reach the end of their service. (31)

AMC en route units are traditionally considered forward deployed for their wartime tasking, ensuring rapid transport of personnel, equipment, combat forces, and supplies around the globe. When the 624 AMSG ceased to exist, most of the rules normally applied to the en route system were no longer applicable to Green Ramp operations. The 3 APS currently supports a designated operational capability (DOC) statement, which requires the capability to conduct aerial rapid-deployment operations during contingency or humanitarian relief operations. When AMC tasks the [3.sup.d] for deployment overseas, much of its capability, honed through daily training with the [82.sup.d], goes with it. When this happens, the 53 APS, a reserve unit located at Pope AFB, fills the gap. This unit also has the advantage of having trained with the Army for the last several decades. As an operation continues, additional active duty and reserve units provide augmentation in terms of personnel, JAI-qualified loadmasters, and materiel-handlin g equipment.

[743.sup.d] Maintenance Squadron

The 743 MXS, has the following motto prominently displayed in its squadron: "The Center of Gravity for Strategic Contingency Operations." The squadron's primary mission is to:

...directly support the XVIII Airborne Corps, 43 AW, Joint Special Operations Command, and other special operations units in the Pope/Fort Bragg community as well as units/aircrews transiting Pope AFB. To provide timely and responsive maintenance in order to meet customer requirements in peacetime and during contingencies. (33)

In 1997, the 624 MXS was deactivated and redesignated as the [743.sup.d]. The unit was subsequently realigned under the [43.sup.d] Logistics Group, while the other primary organizations supporting the DRB remained in the operations group.

The [743.sup.d] is also a unique squadron. No other unit in the Air Force has a similar mission. On the surface, it functions much like an AMC overseas en route location. Responsibilities include launch, recovery, and equipment maintenance for en route aircraft, including the C-141, C-17, C-5, C-130, KC-10, and KC-135. The primary difference between the [743.sup.d] and AMC en route units is the support provided for airborne operations. The [743.sup.d] hosted C-17 and C-5 aircraft airdrop testing, including the Dual Row Airdrop System from both aircraft and C-17 personnel airdrop. The [743.sup.d] proudly maintains its reputation as the authority on launching mass formation combat airdrop missions.

The unique mission on Green Ramp, combined with the changing face of air mobility, poses many challenges to the [743.sup.d]. The C-141's role as the workhorse of the airborne mission led to development of a strong corps of C-141 maintainers. Normally, first-term airmen do not man a unit of this nature--experienced personnel are needed to maintain qualifications on several different airframes. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find training opportunities to maintain proficiency in most units. As the C-17 replaces the C-141 and assumes support of the DRB, the importance of growing a corps of experienced C-17 maintainers becomes more pronounced.

Unlike 3 APS, the 743 MXS does not have a DOC statement. Unit maintainers are not on mobility status, as they focus on supporting Green Ramp operations. However, the size of the unit does not allow for an increased, sustained operations tempo during contingencies. As with the [3.sup.d], when its workload exceeds the working MOG, augmentation is provided from other active duty and reserve units, in the form of personnel and commonly used supply parts. Additionally, crew chiefs normally accompany their aircraft, providing both experience and familiarity with the aircraft's status. Unlike the logistics flights at overseas en route units--which maintain a forward supply location stocked with C-17, C-141, and C-5 parts and in some cases spare aircraft engines--the 743 MXS does not have a forward support location or spare engines.

Outload Operations

Command and control, the 3 APS, and the 743 MXS represent the three primary support units for Green Ramp operations. The deputy operations group commander for joint operations conducts a weekly meeting to address issues affecting the outload mission. Indirect support organizations such as services, safety, transportation, and security forces, as well as tenant units such as the [23.sup.d] Fighter Group also attend. However, the issue of readiness continues to represent an illusive topic during these meetings.

Determining Readiness

The man who is prepared has his battle half fought.

Cervantes: Don Quixote, 1605

The US military's demonstrated capability was a crucial factor in ending the Cold War. Unfortunately, victory in the Cold War and the subsequent absence of a clearly defined threat actually witnessed an increase in operations tempo. Aging weapon systems, declining force structure, and increased focus on a CONUS-based force has brought readiness issues to the forefront in recent years. Ultimately, these issues necessitated changes in the way readiness is measured.

The Air Force continues to focus on people, training, equipment, logistics, and infrastructure to define and measure readiness. (35) These factors are evident in inspection methods used by AMC, the Twenty-First Air Force, and base-level units. However, for a variety of reasons, these inspection methods are not effectively used to measure readiness of the primary AMC units that support DRB outload operations on Green Ramp.

Air Mobility Command

The AMC inspection program is the basis for determining an AMC unit's readiness to respond anywhere around the globe, on short notice, as part of the expeditionary aerospace force concept. The program emphasizes Information Superiority, Global Attack, Rapid Global Mobility, Agile Combat Support, and command and control. (36) Inspection methods include standalone exercises, expeditionary operational readiness inspections (EORI), and en route readiness inspections (ERI). Philosophically, AMC uses a combination of these methods to determine mission readiness on Green Ramp.

Stand-Alone Exercises. Stand-alone exercises are valuable tools. However, they focus more on measuring deployment capability and less on home-station missions, such as supporting outload operations on Green Ramp. Since 743 MXS personnel are not required to maintain currency for mobility, they do not have the mobility equipment or receive other than initial mobility training and, consequently, are not subject to stand-alone exercises.

Expeditionary Operational Readiness Inspection. Expeditionary operational readiness inspections evaluate units' ability meet to meet their wartime taskings. This inspection emphasizes unit type codes (UTC) and measures readiness against standards published in the AMC task list. A unit type code "identifies a deployable package of resources (personnel, equipment, or both) configured to provide a specific wartime capability." (37) All AMC units with DOC statements are included in the Air Force-wide UTC Availability and Tasking Summary and are subject to EORI taskings. (38) An expeditionary operational readiness inspection normally includes personnel from different locations and does not generate an overall wing or group grade. Demonstrated operational capability and IG exercises are the two types of EORI inspections.

The most effective measure of readiness is unit performance during real-world operations. Demonstrated operational capability inspections consist of direct observation of events such as aerospace expeditionary force deployments, JCS exercises, contingency operations, and significant JA/ATTs (a significant JA/ATT uses seven or more aircraft, not including KG-10s, to complete a mission). These inspections assess home-station deployment activity, unit operations at deployed locations, and strategic airlift operations. (39) Obviously, the most opportune time to discover operational deficiencies is not during a real-world contingency. However, all phases of an operation-- mobilization, deployment, employment, sustainment, and redeployment--provide valuable opportunities to evaluate readiness. The inspector general (IG) periodically observes real-world missions to evaluate unit performance but does not inject exercise scenarios into the operation.

An IG exercise is a complex event involving unit type codes from approximately 15 units that are combined into an expeditionary air wing. The exercise is normally conducted at a combat readiness-training center but may be held elsewhere. It emphasizes team building and fosters an expeditionary culture, "thus mirroring real-world operations." (40) Its focus is on anticipated response to a crisis, with an obvious emphasis on what the Air Force brings to the fight. The expeditionary air wing receives all inbound aircraft and then uploads outbound aircraft under simulated wartime conditions (not unlike a significant JA/ ATT). The exercise typically lasts from 6 to 14 days.

Although the IG exercise format is appropriate, AMC has not directly used this program to measure unit readiness on Green Ramp. The 3 APS is subject to IG exercises and participates based on assigned unit type codes. However, unit readiness measurements from an IG exercise primarily reflect a wartime deployment role, not the routine Green Ramp mission. As previously stated, the 743 (d) does not have a mobility commitment, does not support any unit type codes, and is, therefore, not subject to IG inspections. Applicability of IG inspections to the command and control aspect of Green Ramp operations is also minimal.

En Route Readiness Inspections. En route readiness inspections "evaluate a unit's ability to move passengers and cargo effectively and expeditiously through the Defense Transportation System." (41) Major graded areas include readiness, aerial port, logistics, and command and control--all applicable to the three primary Green Ramp support units. However, as mentioned earlier, in 1997, Pope AFB ceased to function as an en route location for AMC. Consequently, the 43 AW is not subject to en route readiness inspections.

Readiness is an evaluation of the movement of cargo and personnel to meet deployment requirements and "effectively transition from peacetime to contingency/wartime operations." (42) The aerial-port grading criteria evaluate the air terminal support of aircraft, cargo, and passengers. Aircraft maintenance and supply support for all AMC en route aircraft are the primary focus of logistics grading criteria. Finally, the command and control function stresses "effective decision making, direction, coordination, execution, and reporting of deployment and readiness activities." (43) Consequently, the ERI concept is ideally suited for determining the readiness of the 3 APS, 743 MXS, and outload operations' command and control elements.

Twenty-First Air Force

The 43 AW is a subordinate of the Twenty-First Air Force, located at McGuire AFB, New Jersey. Numbered air forces are tactical echelons, providing operational leadership and supervision. They are responsible for ensuring the readiness of assigned units. The mission of the Twenty-First is "to command and ensure the combat readiness of assigned air mobility forces in support of Global Reach." (44) Senior leadership continuously monitors personnel, equipment, infrastructure, and training associated with readiness and provides guidance and assistance when required. Methods for providing feedback on Green Ramp readiness issues include staff assistance visits and significant JA/ATT situational reports and post-video teleconferences. However, a recent Air Force Audit Agency Report concluded numbered air force personnel failed to conduct readiness assessment visits at 11 en route locations. (45) These required assessments are a critical tool for assisting senior personnel in determining the readiness of assigned unit s.

Staff Assistance Visits. Personnel from various Twenty-First Air Force functional areas periodically conduct staff assistance visits at assigned units to gain knowledge of readiness issues. Green Ramp's unique mission increases the value of such visits. Critical issues--infrastructure improvement and logistics support--axe often difficult to grasp without actually seeing the landscape. For example, the Anny is currently in the midst of a $105M outload enhancement project on Green Ramp, with completion expected in 2004. This project will eventually expand Green Ramp to include approximately 240 acres on what is currently Fort Bragg. (46) Pope AFB requires assistance from the Twenty-First and AMC to ensure organizations supporting operations on Green Ramp receive commensurate improvements.

Situational Reports and Video Teleconferences. During a significant JA/ATT, the AMC mission commander drafts a situational report at the end of each day's flying activity. This report is a concise recapitulation of events throughout the entire day. Included are statistical data on actual versus planned airdrops and issues associated with the aircraft loading, launch, and recovery process. The mission commander transmits the situational report to the commander of the Twenty-First Air Force, providing an opportunity for immediate, as well as post-event, feedback. Additionally, the commander of the Twenty-First normally chairs a video-teleconference with all major players as soon as practical after the event to ensure constructive feedback is provided before the next significant JA/ATT. These initiatives are invaluable tools for helping determine readiness to support the DRB.

Base-Level Units

The operations group deputy commander for joint operations provides critical oversight of Green Ramp operations. Though lacking formal authority, this individual develops comprehensive guidance for all issues affecting support for outload operations, including the DRB. Primary support organizations attend the weekly outload working group meetings, where they share information and discuss current and potential problems. This meeting is the primary forum for determining readiness at the base level. The commanders of the 743 MXS and 3 APS are key figures in this process, even though they report to the [43.sup.d] Logistics Group and [43.sup.d] Operations Group commanders, respectively.

Unfortunately, the unique nature of the DRB-support mission makes it difficult to identify objective factors for measuring readiness from an Air Force perspective. No other base in AMC has a similar mission. Consequently, senior leadership of the three primary support organizations must continuously look for indicators to assess the readiness of their units to meet the DRB 's 18-hour deployment requirement. Assessments typically focus on factors such as personnel availability, training, and support equipment. The challenge is to identify objective factors in these areas pertinent to DRB support. However, in the end, the best indicator is performance. Short of an actual contingency, the most practical way to determine readiness is through training events such as the Army's emergency readiness deployment exercise.

The Army

The emergency readiness deployment exercise is one of the primary tools the Army uses to determine readiness to execute the mission. It allows the division to test the 18-hour deployment concept by executing the tasking with no notice. In fact, the DRB normally does not know if the alert call is an emergency readiness deployment exercise or a real-world contingency. The exercise is beneficial for determining Air Force readiness as well, although key personnel assigned as trusted agents are in-briefed early in the process. Organizations supporting Green Ramp operations receive early notification to ensure availability of adequate support.

Current Readiness

Theoretically, the tools discussed here should provide senior leadership with a clear picture of the current state of readiness to support the DRB on Green Ramp. However, upon closer review, it becomes apparent there really is no process to determine readiness to support DRB-outload operations at Pope AFB.


Every unit that is not supported is a defeated unit.

Maurice de Saxe, 1732

The DRB-outload support mission is unique to Pope AFB. Many rules, regulations, and procedures normally associated with AMC (and AMC-gained) units are not applicable to Green Ramp operations. Maintaining the capability to project timely combat power around the globe necessitates a nonstandard approach to ensuring readiness. Possible areas of improvement include regulatory guidance; organizational structure; inspection criteria; conduct of exercises; and training, equipment, and personnel.

Regulatory Guidance

When Pope AFB was assigned to ACC, the 624 AMSG functioned as an AMC en route tenant unit. The commands developed memoranda of agreement and understanding, delineating responsibilities of the units providing support to Green Ramp. Currently, guidance exists only in the form of AMC Operation Order 17-76, Joint Airborne/Air Transportability Training, and Pope AEB Instruction 11-105, Air Mobility Task Force Combat Air Delivery Operations. These publications do not provide adequate guidance.

Lack of concise, official guidance makes it difficult to clearly define the DRB-support mission and, thus, to effectively measure readiness. Official recognition of DRB support as a primary mission by AMC could alleviate this problem. A DOC statement with a clearly defined mission, requiring some method of reporting and, consequently, accountability may solve it. A clearly stated requirement would also support adequate funding for infrastructure improvements and procurement of support equipment.

Organizational Structure

The primary organizations providing support to the DRB are aligned in different groups within the 43 AW. The deputy commander for joint operations has overall coordination and oversight responsibilities but no formal authority. Interestingly, the nature of the mission, combined with the capabilities of supporting units, is ideally suited for the AMC en route organizational structure. The en route system is designed to support aircraft transiting the European and Pacific theaters; there are no CONUS en route organizations. However, this organizational structure worked well at Pope, until it fell by the wayside when the base was realigned under AMC.

Reestablishing an air mobility support group at Pope would have little or no impact on normal operations. Manpower authorizations for the 3 APS and 743 MXS would remain the same. AMC ownership of the base negates the need for additional authorizations for command and control and leadership functions. The 43 AW could continue to provide support in areas such as weather and intelligence. The 3d would continue to support all aircraft upload and download operations, and the 743d would provide support to organic aircraft as the workload permitted. Minor realignments of additional support personnel, such as ramp controllers and ALCO personnel would also be necessary. Support requirements for the XVIII Airborne Corps, 82d Airborne Division (most notably the DRB), and the Joint Special Operations Command warrant consideration of this proposal. The deputy commander for joint operations would retain the status of group commander, with commensurate authority. AMC should otherwise consider eliminating this position.


The current organizational structure for outload support on Green Ramp does not lend itself to evaluation under the AMC inspection system. In fact, the 743 MXS is not currently in the database of the AMC Inspector General as an inspected unit. The EORI concept can measure the ability of 3 APS to forward deploy but is not geared toward measuring home-station, outload-support readiness. In contrast, the AMC en route readiness inspections are an ideal tool for measuring readiness to support the DRB mission. However, Pope is not currently subject to them. Obviously, establishment of an air mobility support group at Pope would solve this problem. Even if this does not happen, AMC should consider developing guidance to inspect the outload-support mission based on the ERI concept.


In one sense, capabilities on Green Ramp are tested at least monthly. This comes in the form of significant JA/ATT training events such as Large Package Week, Capstone (an orientation course for newly appointed general officers and senior ranking civilians), and Combat Aerial Delivery School/Weapons Instructor Course graduation exercises. However, significant planning normally accompanies events of this nature, an advantage not available during a DRB recall. From an Air Force perspective, an emergency readiness deployment exercise has similar disadvantages. The emergency readiness deployment exercise represents the Army's primary tool for determining the readiness of the DRB. AMC should consider including Air Force support units at Pope in the no-notice portion of an emergency readiness deployment exercise to test readiness.

In 1999, Pope conducted Gryphon Warrior 99-01--consisting of 94 C-130, C-17, and C-141 airdrop and airland missions during a 5-day exercise, to include engine-running--offload sorties at night. (48) Exercises of this nature, conducted in a realistic environment on a semiannual basis, could also assist in determining readiness to support the DRB mission.

Training, Equipment, and Personnel

Operational requirements must be clearly defined to ensure effective training. With the imminent retirement of the C-141, the C-17 will assume primary responsibility for DRB support. Consequently, Green Ramp personnel must shift their training focus to the C-17, sending people to Charleston AFB for training, in addition to ensuring maximum use of transient aircraft for ground training. Special experience identifiers must be a priority when assigning new personnel to help overcome the challenge of training on multiple airframes. AMC should continue to focus on a new generation of materiel-handling equipment, in addition to prepositioning support equipment at Pope AFB, such as aircraft tow bars, engine change equipment, and applicable test equipment.

Personnel assignments also represent a crucial piece of the readiness puzzle. The current policy to assign only second-term, or longer, aircraft maintainers to the 743 MXS is a success story in this area. AMC should also consider placing limits on the tour length in primary outload-support organizations, as do overseas en route units. Personnel also need the training advantage offered by the home-station environment.


Tis time to leave the books in dust, and oil the unused armor's rust.

Andrew Marvell

In September 1994, it seemed a peaceful solution for restoring democracy in Haiti was not in the offing. The 82d was alerted, and a task force was airborne in minimum time. However, the aircraft never reached Haiti. "The 82d's eminent arrival influenced Haitian government leaders to agree to a peaceful solution." (49) The ability of the DRB to respond rapidly anywhere in the world with significant combat power represents a valuable deterrence tool for national leadership. The importance of air mobility as a force multiplier remains central to ensuring the capability to protect our national interests. This also includes humanitarian interests, as witnessed by the use of the DRB in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in southern Florida in 1992.

Pope AFB performs a central role in determining the effectiveness of the DRB. Over the years, regardless of base ownership or organizational structure, AMC (and reserve component) personnel have remained firmly committed to ensuring the success of this vital mission. However, several years have passed since the DRB was called upon in support of a major national crisis. During this time, the US military witnessed a major reduction in personnel, forward bases, and airlift resources. Consequently, a periodic evaluation of current readiness is required to ensure timely correction of deficiencies.

Examination of current methods for determining the readiness of AMC to support the DRB revealed the absence of an effective system. Consequently, the question posed by this article really remains unanswered. This could have an adverse affect on training, safety, and the ability to accomplish the mission. Areas identified for possible improvement include regulatory guidance, organizational structure, inspections, exercises, and training, equipment, and personnel. Additionally, a DOC statement with a clearly defined mission would assist in overcoming the current absence of concise regulatory guidance. Finally, an organizational structure with effective command and control (an air mobility support group) would ensure synchronization of effort in the DRB-support role.

A clearly defined mission and organizational structure will ensure development of an effective inspection program designed to examine mission capability and support operations. In turn, the exercise program should focus on meeting established mission requirements, such as responsiveness to the DRB. Clear guidance in these areas will help facilitate development of effective training programs, equipment and infrastructure improvements, and personnel assignments focused on mission success.

In a time of fiscal constraint and apparent uncertainty for the future of air mobility (and a rapid deployment force), these proposals may seem trivial. The importance of the DRB is often underappreciated during times of peace. At this very moment, a brigade of the [82.sup.d] stands ready to guard America's national interests. The organizations supporting Green Ramp represent a vital ingredient for ensuring this capability. An effective system must be in place to determine their readiness.


(1.) Henry Cunningham, "Load Up and Move Out," Fayetteville Online, 1998 [Online] Available:, 2 Oct 00.

(2.) Christian Lowe, Military Not Able to Meet Airlift Requirement for War, AMC Update, 22 Dec 00, 1-2.

(3.) Orientation Handbook for Family Members of the 1505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, [3.sup.d] Brigade, 82 AD, 1.

(4.) "Parachute Assault," International Defense Review, 22, No 4, Apr 89, 413-414.

(5.) Briefing, 743 MXS, Strategic Brigade Airdrop, 30 Aug 99.

(6.) Department of Defense, Joint Vision 2020, Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, Jun 00, 1.

(7.) History Office, XVIII Airborne Corps, 1989-1990, Operation Just Cause, 3.

(8.) History, Anything, Anywhere, Anytime: An Illustrated History of the Military Airlift Command, 1941-1991, Military Airlift Command, Office of History, May 91, 198.

(9.) Dominic J. Caraccilo, The Ready Brigade of the 82nd AD in Desert Storm, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, Inc. 1993, 24.

(10.) Michael R. Gordon and Gen Bernard E. Trainor, The General's War: The Inside Story of the Conflict in the Gulf, Boston, Massachusetts: Little Brown and Company, 1995, 56.

(11.) Blake R. Waltman, "The All-Americans," Soldiers, 54, No 5, May 99, 2-5.

(12.) Strategic Brigade Airdrop.

(13.) "C-130 Hercules," Federation of American Scientists [Online] Available:, 20 Jan 01.

(14.) Strategic Brigade Airdrop.

(15.) "Operational and Strategic Logistics," Lesson 4, Operational Logistics, Army Command and General Staff College [Online] Available:, 18 Jan 01.

(16.) Matthew Cox, "Airborne Units Land Fast, Hit Hard, Remain Relevant," Army Tunes, 61, No 3, 14 Aug 00, 18.

(17.) Strategic Brigade Airdrop.

(18.) Ibid.

(19.) Danita L. Hunter, "C-17s Deliver a Brigade in 30 Minutes or Less," Air Force News Service, 22 Feb 00, [Online] Available:, 18 Jan 01.

(20.) Courtesy, 743 MXS.

(21.) Strategic Brigade Airdrop.

(22.) Ibid.

(23.) AMC, "Mobility Objectives," Air Mobility Strategic Plan 2000, CD-ROM, Nov 99,

(24.) AMC Programming Plan 97-05, Pope AFB Ownership Transfer from Air Combat Command to Air Mobility Command, 1 Mar 97, B-II-4.

(25.) AMC Mission Directive 709, Air Mobility Support Groups and Squadrons, 8 May 00, 3.

(26.) Pope AFB Instruction 11-105, Air Mobility Task Force Combat Air Delivery Operations, 11.

(27.) Ibid.

(28.) 3 APS [Online] Available:, 5 Feb 01.

(29.) Pope AFB Instruction 11-105, 7.

(30.) Strategic Brigade Airdrop.

(31.) "Mobility Objectives."

(32.) Strategic Brigade Airdrop.

(33.) Pope AFB Instruction 11-105, 7.

(34.) Courtesy, 743 MXS.

(35.) F. Whitten Peters, "Report of the Secretary of the Air Force," Annual Report to the President and the Congress, by the Secretary of Defense, 2000, 4.

(36.) AMC Instruction 90-201, The Inspection System, Mar 00, 17.

(37.) Air Force Audit Agency, Report of Audit: Unit Type Code Deployment Planning, Washington DC: Air Force Audit Agency, 6 Apr 98, synopsis.

(38.) AMC Instruction 90-201.

(39.) AMC Operation Order 17-76, Joint Airborne/Air Transportability Training, 12 Sep 99, 4.

(40.) Ibid.

(41.) Ibid.

(42.) Ibid

(43.) Ibid.

(44.) Twenty-First Air Force [Online] Available:, 16 Jan 01.

(45.) Air Force Audit Agency, Report of Audit. AMC Enroute Maintenance Operations, Washington DC: Air Force Audit Agency, Jun 98, synopsis.

(46.) Henry Cunningham, "Green Ramp Grabs Road," Fayetteville Online, 19 Feb 99, [Online] Available: .htm, 2 Oct 00.

(47.) Developed by the author.

(48.) 743 MXS, 1999 Air Force Maintenance Effectiveness Award Nomination Package, Oct 99, 9.

(49.) Blake R. Whitman, "The All-Americans," Soldiers, 54, No 5, May 99, 2-5.

Major Haines is the aircraft branch chief, Aircraft Maintenance Division, Headquarters Air Mobility Command, Scott AFB, Illinois. At the time of the writing of this article, he was a student at the Air Command and Staff College.
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Author:Haines, Scott A.
Publication:Air Force Journal of Logistics
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2002
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