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15th Airlift Squadron readies for deployment

By Master Sgt. Paul Kilgallon | 437th Airlift Wing Public Affairs | August 27, 2008

CHARLESTON AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- More than 130 Airmen from Charleston AFB's 15th Airlift Squadron, 437th Operations Support Squadron and 437th Maintenance Group deployed from here Aug. 27 to a forward deployed location in Southwest Asia as part of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. 

For this deployment, the squadron is deploying to a single base where they will fly and manage missions in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan. The squadron will assume control of the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron from the 14th Airlift Squadron based out of Charleston AFB, who will return home within the next couple of weeks. 

Lt. Col. John Lamontagne, commander of the 15 AS, said there was no question about the importance of what they were getting ready to do and he thanks the members of the 15 AS for their efforts in getting ready to deploy. 

"I am very proud to deploy with this squadron," said Colonel Lamontagne. "They have worked very hard in preparation for this deployment, and although it will be difficult to leave our families behind, I know the squadron will execute the mission well. I also know our spouse network, in conjunction with the base services, will take care of our family members left behind." 

Their deployment marks the seventh time an entire Charleston C-17 squadron has deployed for an operation. 

The 15 AS will perform combat airlift missions of personnel and equipment, airdrop resupply missions for troops in remote areas and aeromedical evacuation missions during this deployment, Colonel Lamontagne said. 

In the past, the C-17 Globemaster III aircraft and the Airmen who supported them deployed to operating theaters and performed airlift missions for a short duration lasting up to three weeks and then returned to their home station. 

To help alleviate operations demand and provide more predictability for the C-17 airlift squadrons, Air Mobility Command devised the two Expeditionary Airlift Squadron concept. This now allows for two airlift squadrons to deploy as part of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. One airlift squadron forms the 816th Air Expeditionary Squadron and operates from a deployed location in Southwest Asia; the other forms the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron operating out of Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. 

"The purpose of having two expeditionary airlift squadrons deployed is to efficiently move cargo and passengers throughout the Iraqi and Afghan theaters," said Colonel Lamontagne.

The two EAS concept enables the Air Force to leverage our commercial partners -both air and sea - and bring large amounts of people and cargo to our forward bases, Colonel Lamontagne said.

"It is efficient in two different ways - it saves lots of fuel, and it also reduces the personnel tempo for the C-17 crew force." 

Colonel Lamontagne said that his squadron is "top-notch" and they have been preparing for this deployment daily. 

"This squadron is well prepared for combat," said Colonel Lamontagne. "Just as the rest of the base has been preparing for the operational readiness inspection over the past year, this squadron has been preparing for our combat deployment at the same time." 

"I am extremely proud of the tremendously talented people in the 15 AS, as well as the outstanding support we have received from everyone at Team Charleston."
"Our Airmen also have received tremendous help from their families that will remain behind--we couldn't do it without their support. The bottom line is we are well trained, well equipped, and are ready to Take the Fight to the Enemy."

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