Monday, April 11, 2005

The 615th Contingency Response Wing opening and operating airfields in austere locations

Article Last Updated: Saturday, Apr 09, 2005 - 11:38:24 pm PDT

Changes brewing at Travis

By Ian Thompson

FAIRFIELD - Travis Air Force Base will eliminate the globe-trotting 615th Air Mobility Operations Group and resurrect it as the 615th Contingency Response Wing on Monday.

Travis AFB is following five weeks after McGuire Air Force BAse in New Jersey replaced its 621st Air Mobility Operations Group with a contingency response wing. The new wing will oversee its smaller contingency response groups and will no longer have to reach out to other Air Force units to provide men and equipment. "The activation of CRWs and associated groups at Travis and McGuire is not only historic, but clearly signals our resolve to posture our mobility forces for rapid base operations anywhere in the world," 18th Air Force commander Lt. Gen. William Wexler III said in a Travis news release.

Lessons learned from opening and operating airfields in austere locations in Afghanistan, Iraq and other central Asian locations has driven the need to create an integral team for opening bases.

Ad hoc teams lacked a solid understanding of how each part of that team opening a base should work closely together."Contingency Response Groups deliver a cohesive group of functional experts trained together to open the base. They'll be light, lean and quick to deploy and employ," 15th Expeditionary Mobility Task Force commander Brig. Gen. Brooks Bash said.

The 615th AMOG has been deploying out of Travis to set up and operate forward airfields since it was formed in 1994 and cut its teeth running the airfields in Haiti in September 1994. The unit has since seen action all over the world, ranging from relocating troops and supplies in Saudi Arabia to helping National Guard unit battle wildfires in Idaho.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

Article Last Updated: Monday, Apr 11, 2005 - 11:08:04 pm PDT

New wing set to take flight at Travis AFB
By Ian Thompson

FAIRFIELD - A faster, more efficient force to set up and operate airfields anywhere in the world was born Monday.The new 615th Contingency Response Wing will no longer be dependent on other units to provide security for its airfields and intelligence on what its people will encounter.

Leaders such as 18th Air Force commander Lt. Gen. William Welser and 15th Expeditionary Mobility Task Force commander Brig. Gen. (select) Brooks Bash lauded the unit's creation as historic."This will allow the Air Force to take fight forward quickly, and to do it more efficiently, more effectively," Welser said. Travis' Monday ceremony follows the one held in early March when McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey replaced its 621st Air Mobility Operations Group with the 621st Contingency Response Wing.

The two new wings are self-contained, with everything they need to oversee several smaller, subordinate contingency response groups who do the job. Travis' 615th AMOG had between 500 and 600 people in it and the ability to take whatever more it needed from other units on base - and from other bases if needed. Air mobility operations groups were created in 1994 in the aftermath of the Gulf War and the closure of many permanent overseas bases. Their job was to open up and operate air bases in often-austere locations as long as they were needed.They were ad-hoc units built around a core of aerial porters, aircraft maintainers and communications personnel with security and other troops added on.

The new 615th CRW is about 100 servicemembers larger than its predecessor and doesn't need to borrow anyone from other units."We are expanding our mission a little bit," Master Sgt. Robert Jepson said. "We are incorporating security forces, logistics into the unit. "Just who will be added and what units they will be transferred from is still being worked out.Part of the reason for the change is to create a more cohesive unit. Under the old arrangement, people from units such as security forces or intelligence often weren't familiar with the people of the 615th or how they did business. "When they deployed, they were going into it blind," Jepson said. "Now, they are going to know what they need to know. They will know who they are working with.

"One of the smaller units created Monday, the 573rd Global Support Squadron, will be classroom for new contingency response wing members, teaching them what they need to know before sending them to one of the wing's contingency response groups. Putting all this support in-house will make the contingency response groups much more self-sufficient and able to react faster when they get orders to move out to somewhere else in the world."This frees us up to do our job - the command and control of aircraft," Jepson said.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

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