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Moving PAX and Cargo to Afghanistan
More than a short ton of cargo waits on a 40K Loader prior to download on a C-17 Globemaster III at the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan Jan. 17, 2010. Nearly 7,500 Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines along with thousands of pounds of equipment are shipped through the Transit Center every week. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nichelle Anderson/released)
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C-17 Det in Kyrgyzstan a key part of Manas mission

Posted 1/25/2010   Updated 2/1/2010 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Carolyn Viss
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

1/25/2010 - TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan -- The arrival of a C-17 detachment here has what leadership calls "clear, synergistic effects" on both the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing and the 816th and 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron missions.

Carrying myriad cargo into Afghanistan, these beautiful birds are agile enough to withstand rugged terrain and deliver the goods safely, effectively and on time.

"This 816/817th EAS detachment employs our C-17 Globemaster IIIs to provide airlift and move people, equipment, supplies and injured personnel throughout the area of responsibility," said Maj. Shanon Anderson, the detachment commander.

"We move patients, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, distinguished visitors, pallets of equipment and supplies, and helicopters," said Tech. Sgt. Antonio Muñoz, 817th EAS chief loadmaster.

Sergeant Muñoz stated it's important because it's difficult to get the different types of cargo into Afghanistan because of the rugged terrain and threats.
"The closer to the destination we can exchange that cargo, the more efficiently and quickly we can employ our C-17s capabilities," he said.

"It can haul just about anything that a C-5 can, and be just as tactical as a C-130, so you get the best of both the strategic and tactical worlds," Sergeant Muñoz said. "We mitigate those [threats] and reduce the number of convoys and personnel that need to go outside the wire by providing the necessary airlift in and around the country."

It's always challenging, they have a tight schedule to stick to, and they work long days, but for the team of Airmen who make sure each part of the mission gets accomplished, it's rewarding. This plane, the Air Force's newest airlifter, enables the crew to utilize a diverse range of skills they've been trained in.

"We (loadmasters) tend to our passengers needs, work closely with the medical crews when we have patients onboard, help maintain situational awareness in tactical environments, monitor pressurization and G[force] effects on cargo, and assist our aircraft commanders to safely handle in-flight emergencies," Sergeant Muñoz said.

"I think the best part of the job is the diversity of locations that we operate into and out of," said 1st Lt. Lt. Nicole Stenstad, a C-17 pilot from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., who is flying her first deployment missions after only 18 months in the seat. "The C-17 mission out of Manas is unique because it's so close to the fight. We fly all over the world, but from here we carry troops and cargo that directly impact our efforts in Afghanistan."

"Also, flying into the AOR every day allows us to put our training to work. Our crews are forced to use all of their skills and work together effectively to get the mission done. The flying is challenging but very rewarding."

Plus, according to Sergeant Muñoz, "it's an awesome looking aircraft!"

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