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Travis Air Force Base and America’s war on terrorism

Travis Air Force Base and America’s war on terrorism

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Travis Air Force Base and America’s war on terrorism

AF File Image

Travis Air Force Base and America’s war on terrorism

AF File Image

Travis Air Force Base and America’s war on terrorism

AF File Image

The importance and versatility of Travis’ worldwide air mobility mission of providing global airlift and refueling has proven critical in Operation Enduring Freedom. This was nowhere better demonstrated than during America’s response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. In the wake of those events, Travis people and aircraft have performed a broad spectrum of missions that provide a fairly complete snapshot of what the base can do for Americans in war and peace.

Domestic disaster relief
With our nation’s immediate focus on recovery efforts in the days following the attacks, Travis sprang into action in a disaster relief role, delivering specialized personnel and equipment from the West Coast to where they were needed in New York and Washington.

Within 24 hours, Travis was instrumental in transporting a Sacramento-based Urban Search and Rescue team, 2 Black Hawk helicopters, portable hospital equipment, aeromedical evacuation personnel and key government officials to the attack sites.

All told, Travis expedited the movement of 240 passengers and 120 tons of critical equipment to help the search, rescue, and recovery operations, and our aerial port was responsible for loading and unloading military and civilian aircraft transiting Travis with hundreds more passengers and tons of equipment dedicated to the effort. This response underscored America’s reliance on Travis as an aerial port and carrier for a wide variety of assets dedicated to disaster relief operations.

In orchestrating our relief efforts, Travis’ Air Force assets worked extremely well with our Army tenant—the 3rd Brigade, 91st Division, which provides the regional Defense Coordinating Official who coordinates Department of Defense assistance to civilian authorities during times of crisis. As a result of being stationed here, the DCO for this region had an established working relationship with Air Force leaders at Travis that permitted quick access to information on airlift and other support requested by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 

Enabling combat operations
As America’s focus moved from recovery to military action against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, Travis also led the way in projecting forces into the theater through airlift and air refueling. Travis C-5’s were cornerstone to the effort in rapidly deploying American forces for Operation Enduring Freedom, and almost every crew has been deployed or on alert since Sept. 11. The forward-deployed KC-10’s refueled the first combat aircraft to strike the Taliban Oct. 7,and during that time, passed more than 22 million of pounds of fuel in support of thousands of combat sorties flown over Afghanistan. 

In total, at least 10 percent of the base’s active-duty personnel have been deployed for some length of time in support of military operations since Sept. 11, 2001.

This large and rapid mobilization made it necessary to activate approximately 320 reservists to backfill the essential jobs left vacant by deployed personnel.

In addition, another 600 reservists from the 349th Air Mobility Wing, the associate reserve partner at Travis have been activated. This has been especially crucial in implementing heightened security procedures, but has enabled Travis to continue providing a wide variety of base services normally provided for more than 10,500 active duty and reserve personnel, 8,400 military family members and 59,000 local military retirees.

Deployments and the stress they place on the workers and families left behind is nothing new to Travis; it has always been a part of the military job description. But since the Sept. 11 attacks were the first of that magnitude on American shores since the attack on Pearl Harbor 60 years ago, American leaders have also given renewed emphasis to the oldest function of the military—what we are now calling homeland security—and here, too, Travis has had an important role.

In the days immediately following the attacks, Travis KC-10’s were involved in refueling missions supporting Combat Air Patrols throughout the U.S.

The role of Travis AFB in our nation’s war against terrorism evolved in the intervening months, and in July 2002, Travis C-5s flew down range into the rugged territory of Afghanistan to extract Canadian forces and equipment from the international airport at Kandahar. This was the first time C-5s had been used in the combat environment in the Afghan theater of operations. During this deployment, Travis C-5s achieved a 100 percent on-time departure rate.

Humanitarian operations
In addition to disaster relief, traditional military operations, and homeland security efforts recently supported, Travis has also demonstrated how central the air mobility mission is to modern warfare by supporting near-simultaneous international humanitarian operations. While Air Force C-17’s have played the primary role in airdropping relief supplies over Afghanistan, Travis helped deliver more than 687 tons of humanitarian daily rations -nearly one-quarter of the more than 2 million meals airdropped—from depots in California to their transloading point at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Travis also made several smaller-scale contributions to the relief effort, including the shipment of nearly 12,000 blankets in advance of the Afghan winter.

In addition OEF related missions, Travis provided more tha 80 percent of the U.S. airlift in support of humanitarian relief efforts following a tyhphoon storm that hit Guam packing more tha 150 mph winds.

By year’s end, in 2002, Travis flew more than 32,880 flying hours aboard C-5 missions during more than 5,700 sorties, and 34,439 hours aboard KC-10s for more than 5,200 sorties.

Operation Iraqi Freedom
Travis AFB has been extensively supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, ranging from the air refueling of coalition aircraft throughout the Central Command area of operation to medical personnel sustaining forward deployed medical treatment facilities.

Travis KC-10s have refueled coalition aircraft such as the F-117, B-2, F-16, and even Navy, Marine and British planes. Travis C-5s have transported thousands of personnel and tons of warfighting equipment and supplies.

As a critical part of the air component attacking the Iraqi regime, the U.S. Air Force has been heavily engaged in combat operations and combat support missions. Nearly 800 Air Force aircraft of all types are flying missions 24 hours a day across every square foot of Iraq.

According to the Department of Defense, in the first 13 days of the operation, airmen  flew nearly 4,000 -- or 100% -- airlift sorties, moving almost 27,000 short tons of cargo and 32,000 passengers and Additionally, airmen flew more than 2,500 -- 70% -- of all refueling sorties, offloading 107 million pounds (16 million gallons) of fuel to aircraft of every coalition member. 

All of these missions—even our new role in homeland security—are based on things Travis military professionals have been accomplishing for years if not decades. However, if Sept. 11 underscores what the base has always done well, it has also underscored the need to invest in the future of the base’s personnel, infrastructure, and equipment to ensure Travis remains ready to answer the challenges of a new century.

Within a few days, DOD officials expect two American ships to deliver more than 50,000 tons of wheat, enough to feed 4 to 5 million Iraqis for a month. As a key player of AMC’s Global Reach mission, Travis resources and people are integral supporters of humantarian assistance to the Iraqi people.