Captain puts troops first

by Master Sgt. Jim Fisher
17th Air Force Public Affairs

When Capt. Manuel Hauck deployed to Sather Air Base, Iraq, in November 2007, he found a unit still in the building stages.

 Much like his current unit, 17th Air Force (Air Forces Africa), the 370th Expeditionary Advisory Group was a new unit demanding much of its leadership in terms of vision and commitment.

Captain Hauck exemplified both of these traits, and was recently awarded the Bronze Star for his contributions as the 370th EAG’s chief of logistics.

The 370th EAG was supporting a coalition air force training team, charged with providing advice and assistance to the burgeoning Iraqi Air Force, Captain Hauck said.

“Most of our day-to-day activity was geared toward supporting the rebuilding of the Iraqi Air Force and advising the Iraqis,” he said.

The captain explained that because the 370th EAG was a new unit and not fully manned, a lot of positions were vacant upon his arrival, including civil engineering, comptroller, and personnel functions.

“A lot of things needed to be done, so I just jumped in,” he said.
The citation and documentation for the Captain’s medal, however, reflects his efforts to take care of the troops. Captain Hauck was focused on improving quality of life for the more than 350 Airmen in nine units supported by the 370th EAG, at locations across Iraq. His efforts included more than 30 missions outside the wire to work on making conditions better for the Airmen in the field, including escorting his commanding general on a tour of these facilities.

The captain was able to champion and secure 30 quality-of-life initiatives and $1,520,000 to fund them.

“When I arrived, we were all in tents, and with all of us being there on one-year tours, I concentrated on getting everyone in hard billets,” he said.
This included offices and other work areas.

“We improved the situation. I wouldn’t say what we had was modern, but as far as Iraq standards go, it was an improvement.”

In addition to living and working conditions, the captain applied some old-fashioned persistence to get improved Airman Battle Uniforms and All Purpose Environmental Clothing System jackets to the troops as colder weather set in.

“Initially, we weren’t even slated to get them, and once we got on the list, it was a matter of staying on top of it to make sure we didn’t fall off the priority list,” Captain Hauck said. “The whole Air Force was trying to get the APECS jackets at that time.”
Numerous other accomplishments were cited in Captain Hauck’s award, including his logistics team procuring over $65 million in mission-critical assets for the Iraqi Air Force, which contributed to a 207 percent increase in Iraqi combat sorties.

Ultimately, he’s most proud of his contributions toward rebuilding the Iraqi Air Force.
“Seeing the Iraqis build their Air Force, and seeing the pride they had when they began to train their own crews was the most satisfying, especially when they started stepping up and flying their own missions,” Captain Hauck said. “We began in an advising role and it was good to see them stepping up and laying the groundwork for us to withdraw, because the more independent they become, the less we are needed there.

“I am honored to have been considered for this award. It meant more that my leadership thought enough of me to submit it than to actually receive it.”
Maj. Gen. Brooks L. Bash, deputy commanding general for Coalition Air Force Training Team supporting the Multi-National Security Transition Command, echoed this impact in his recommendation for the award.

“His impressive contributions advanced the end state of a modern Iraqi Air Force … and will have a lasting impact on both the security of the United States and the nation of Iraq,” the general wrote.