JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
After nearly three months of increased mission tempo, operations at Joint Base Charleston are returning to more normal levels.
Since September of this year, JB Charleston has played an important role in many international events, such as the West African Ebola troop movement, Afghanistan drawdown, ISIL counter-insurgency and presidential transport support. While JB Charleston will continue to support these types of missions, December 15, 2014, marked the end of the surge.
Charleston's C-17s have flown nearly 30 Operation UNITED ASSISTANCE missions which supported humanitarian aid to contain the spread of the Ebola virus. Charleston C-17s have also moved detainees from Guantanamo Bay, and supported the Secretary of Defense. Aircrews transported the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to a NATO defense summit and to a meeting with coalition partners in Iraq, while also enabling numerous presidential movements around the world to countries including: China, Vietnam, Australia, Estonia and the United Kingdom.
During this time, JB Charleston Airmen received, packaged and shipped 88 tons of humanitarian aid, helping to feed more than 20,000 displaced refugees in Iraq.
JB Charleston Airmen have reliably supported and executed these missions while continuing to perform ongoing retrograde operations in Afghanistan as well as local training sorties. This surge effort required all of JB Charleston's Airmen to operate 10 to 15 percent above normal capacity, resulting in 2,871 sorties, more than 10,000 flight hours and 101 million pounds of delivered cargo.
"Complementing the JB Charleston mission were our reservists, citizen Airmen who continue to balance their civilian careers with their military duty while supporting these operations," said Lt. Col. Russ Catanach, 315th Operations Group deputy commander. "The Reserve crews demonstrate that the 315th Airlift Wing's volunteer C-17 crewmembers stand capable and ready to fly anywhere in the world to support the nation's objectives, whether during conflict or in response to humanitarian crises of any nature. This volunteer force, coupled with active-duty crew members, enabled JB Charleston to meet the challenges faced during these past three months."
In a perfect world, returning to regular operations means a few more JB Charleston Airmen will have the opportunity to spend the winter holidays with their loved ones, providing much-needed relief from the high operations tempo.
Aircraft demand will return to normal levels, allowing aircrew and maintenance personnel more time to complete inspections and training requirements, thus ensuring JB Charleston's ability to meet future demands.
"I am proud of the way our crews responded to the surge; as tired as they are, I know they're still ready for the next contingency," Lt. Col. Mark Baran, 14th Airlift Squadron commander.