DIYARBAKIR AIR BASE, Turkey — Full certainty is never guaranteed in the military, which is why Airmen are trained to deploy at a moment’s notice and hit the grounding running when the need for them becomes reality.
For Airmen assigned to the 435th Contingency Response Group, a subgroup of the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing, that need came on Aug. 12 when the unit deployed to Diyarbakir Air Base, Turkey.
“The 435th CRG’s mission is to get in and out,” said Lt. Col Ryan Barney, 435th CRG element commander. “The unique thing about this mission is the 435th CRG were the first troops on the ground, and we really depended on everyone and the defenders deployed with us for security as the building began.”
The 80 Airmen from the 435th CRG, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa’s only expeditionary open-the-base force, were tasked to set up initial life support and operations facilities for the bed-down of forces. The base stood up in support of Operation Inherent Resolve to enhance U.S. Air Forces Central Command’s personnel recovery operations in Syria and Iraq.
According to Barney, the team had to build the base from nothing.
“When the 435th CRG first arrived, there was nothing but a grassy field and a lot of boulders,” Barney said. “By providing airfield ops, combat support and training, security, construction and mobile aircraft support that field is now a ‘bare base’ and ready for the follow-on force to arrive.”
Due to the variety of missions the unit is tasked to accomplish, the 435th deploys to each tasking with equipment prepared to achieve the mission in multiple types of environments.
“We have certainly had our challenges with the war-ready material equipment,” Barney said. “When you’re receiving over 680 tons of equipment, some of it is bound to not be in the condition you thought it would arrive in. With a little bit of innovation and teamwork, the Airmen here were able to overcome those hurdles to keep moving forward.”
Made up of a variety of 29 Air Force Specialty Codes, the Airmen of the 435th CRG work in close proximity, which allows them to learn other career fields as well as develop their own technical skills.
“My job as an aerial porter is to unload planes and deal with logistics,” said Airman 1st Class Christopher McDade, 435th Contingency Response Squadron air transportation specialist. “But sometimes in order to get the job done, any one of us can be pulled from our daily operations to help out with something like construction, security or engineering.”
Within less than two weeks, the Airmen of the 435th CRG have built 88 operational structures on DAB.
DAB is a Turkish base, home to the Turkish air force’s 8th Air Wing. According to Barney, the team couldn’t have completed as much as they have without the continuous partnership with Turkey and the 8th Main Jet Base Command.
“This deployment has been very successful thus far,” Barney said. “The cooperation between the U.S. and Turkish forces has been excellent and I foresee the relationship continuing to grow as operations here and throughout the rest of Turkey continue. The 435th CRG and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner.”