Twenty-one Airmen assigned to the 86th Contingency Response Group, joined by 62 other U.S. Air Forces in Europe Airmen, recently returned from six different European airfields following their two-week deployment supporting the President of the United States’ G-8 summit and European theatre visit.
***image1***These Airmen were assigned to the 722nd Expeditionary Air Base Squadron, which was specifically constituted at Ramstein for this mission and managed operating locations in Tirana, Albania; Prague, Czech Republic; Rostock, Germany; Gdansk, Poland; Rome, Italy and Sophia, Bulgaria. The 86th CRG had teams leading operations at two of these locations, Gdansk and Rostock.
From May 26 to June 14, the Airmen provided the aircraft security, aircraft generation, cargo handling, personnel processing, fuels, vehicle maintenance and command and control support required to lay down the logistics bridge associated with a presidential move. During this period, the six teams supported 24 aircraft and 29 over-land missions that moved 440 personnel and 547 tons of equipment in direct support of the President’s multi-nation visit.
“This was an important mission for USAFE from both a theatre engagement and theater security cooperation perspective,” said Lt. Col. Rob Redanz, 722nd EABS commander who was charged with the command and control of all 3rd Air Force assets used to support these missions. Colonel Redanz also currently serves as 86th Air Mobility Squadron commander in the 86th CRG and the expeditionary nature of this mission was in line with his day-to-day operations.
“This mission taught our deployed teams a lot about working with other government agencies and, more importantly, we made some real one-on-one connections with our strategic partners throughout Europe — both new and old,” Colonel Redanz said. “I was fortunate to have my own Airmen who are trained to do this type of work at two of our deployed locations, but everyone rose to the challenge at all of the deployed sites and delivered success on this critical mission.”
These Air Force “Ambassadors in Blue” received numerous laudatory comments from U.S. Embassy and Host Nation representatives. Of note, the Security Forces detachments from RAF Alconbury and RAF Croughton assigned to protect Air Force One and other assets in Tirana were praised by the Regimental Commander of the Albanian Commando unit they were pared with for their extremely professional conduct and operational effectiveness. The team deployed to Rostock was also singled out for praise by the Defense Attaché in Berlin for their ability to work outside their normal roles to support a variety of missions that weren’t part of the original plan. The Rostock team wound up working nearly all of the support missions for other visiting dignitaries including the prime ministers of Great Britain, Japan, Italy and Canada, the Chancellor of Germany, the presidents of France and the Russian Federation.
The teams deployed to Gdansk and Rostock had to deal with hundreds of thousands of protestors set on disrupting the G-8 Summit. The deployed team chiefs worked with their counterparts in the state department to effectively schedule their work around the protests and made the mission happen; overcoming all the logistical challenges that typically accompany a mission of this size and complexity.
“The outstanding support provided by our USAFE personnel, combined with their daily interaction with Host Nation and U.S. Embassy representatives goes a long way to help ensure the trust and cooperation of our European Allies,” said Colonel Redanz. “This mission was critical for all of us.”
(Courtesy of 86th CRG)