Superior Warfighter Support -- McConnell knows Airpower

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Paul Scott
  • 22nd Operations Support Squadron commander
When Operation Odyssey Dawn began on the night of March 19, the men and women of McConnell proved their ability to provide "Ready Mobility" and "Ready Airmen" from a "Ready Base." On short notice, Team McConnell rapidly deployed KC-135 Stratotankers, aircrews and maintainers to an air base in western Europe.

As the 22nd Operations Support Squadron commander, I'm used to sending McConnell KC-135s and personnel to deployed locations. In this case, the role was reversed. As the expeditionary air refueling squadron commander at the deployed location, I received incredible people from Team McConnell. Those people rapidly provided air refueling support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization air operations over Libya.

I was thoroughly impressed with how quickly people and equipment arrived. It is a testament to McConnell's readiness and the teamwork among the 22nd Air Refueling Wing's Operations, Maintenance, Support and Medical Groups and our Reserve partners in the 931st Air Refueling Group. That team effort was essential to projecting combat power.

The build-up for Libya operations was unexpected. In the days prior, I was part of a team flying two McConnell KC-135s in Europe. Our mission was to air refuel F-15 Strike Eagles returning from the Middle East, enabling their long flight home to North Carolina.

When our crew made our planned stop on Thursday, March 17, we were directed to remain in place and prepare for Libya missions. On the evening of Friday, March 18, we were placed on standby for a high-priority mission. While we were in crew rest, more McConnell KC-135s arrived at our location from a temporary duty location in Puerto Rico.

On Saturday evening, my crew was alerted and we flew a night refueling mission to support B-2 strikes. After the flight, I stayed at Tanker Operations to ensure another formation of KC-135s was launched for the next wave of B-2 refuelings.

Then I got a few hours of sleep and returned to Tanker Ops Sunday morning. More KC-135s had arrived from the Pittsburgh Air National Guard with people to form a squadron staff. We went straight to work.

The bomber missions of the night prior were complete. Now the fighters were flying, with heavy requirements for air refueling support. We focused on providing the maximum amount of airborne fuel. To make that happen, we needed crews and tankers as quickly as possible.

More tankers arrived from multiple units including McConnell. Employing the force occurred simultaneously with building the force. Aircrews arrived well-prepared, were put in crew rest immediately and then launched on ATO missions shortly after crew rest permitted. Early in the build-up, the 931st ARG sent five crews on a single aircraft, providing an immediate boost in the number of daily sorties we could provide.

Additional maintenance personnel and equipment arrived from McConnell on C-17 Globemasters. The maintainers were incredible. As jets arrived, the maintenance team pumped them up to the standard 185,000 pound fuel load and prepared them for launch. Some aircraft departed on ATO missions approximately six hours after they first landed at the deployed location.

The direct results from first two weeks of operations (March 19 to April 3):
- more than 280 missions
- more than 2,500 flight hours
- approximately 16.5 million pounds of fuel offloaded
- more than 1,400 receiver aircraft refueled
- a team that included personnel and aircraft participation from 20 other wings

The results prove Team McConnell knows Airpower! "Superior Warfighter Support" isn't just a slogan. It's the McConnell standard for deploying, employing and sustaining people and equipment. Your response to contingency operations was phenomenal.

Due to the success, Team McConnell received credit for much of the upcoming Operational Readiness Inspection. The sole area that will be evaluated is our ability to survive and operate in a contaminated environment. Let's stay focused, continue the pattern of excellence and remain prepared to impress Air Mobility Command each and every time.

To the men and women of Team McConnell (Airpower!), thank you for your outstanding response to support Operation Odyssey Dawn