New deployment system eases load on aircrews

McChord Air Force Base -- The Air Force changed the way C-17 Globemaster III squadrons deploy to Europe and
Asia in June. The change was made to C-17 crew deployments to ease the burden on pilots and loadmasters flying from the U.S, said Lt. Col. Smokey Robinson, 10th Airlift Squadron commander and one of the founders of the two expeditionary air squadron system. 

Now two squadrons, instead of one, deploy to U.S. European and Central Commands for 120 days at a time, said Colonel Robinson. Because two squadrons are present, fewer C-17 crews from non-deployed squadrons travel back and forth between the continental U.S. and the Middle East since Airmen are already there available for missions. 

Currently, non-deployed crews from home stations fly regular trans-oceanic missions from the U.S. to Ramstein and Spangdahlem Air Bases in Germany. Mostly, their purpose is hauling cargo and personnel between Germany and the U.S. as well as rotate C-17s out of the area of responsibility for scheduled and heavy maintenance. 

Ultimately, the new system will help missions into the war zones become more efficient, said Maj. Otis Jones, 7th AS assistant director of operations who recently returned to McChord from a 140-day deployment. 

“The [deployed] aircrews will be there for 120 days running the locations and flying the missions,” he said. “You know the people you are setting up on missions so you know the experience levels and capabilities. Since the crews will be more efficient, so will the missions.” 

The new system will also reduce temporary duty assignment durations by 50 percent to
allow increased predictability and stability for Airmen and their families, said Colonel
Robinson. 

The 7th AS, which was replaced by the 10th AS earlier this month, joined the 17th Airlift
Squadron from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., to help facilitate the move to the two EAS system, said Colonel Robinson. The 10th AS now operates in the northern part of the AOR as the 817th EAS, while the 17th AS operates out of the southern part of the AOR as the 816th EAS.