CRG fills multifaceted role in Romania

Story and photo by Tech. Sgt. Shawn Smith
86th Contingency Response Group

***image1***In the 2,500 year-old Black Sea coastal city of Constanta, Romania, the 86th Contingency Response Group is accomplishing what is typically done collectively by Airmen around the world:  off-station training with fellow Air Force units, joint exercises with sister service and acting as humanitarian and goodwill ambassadors in a foreign land.

More than 20 members of the CRG from 13 different specialties are in Romania to help the 37th Airlift Squadron complete their quarterly off-station training exercise by providing direct support to C-130 flying operations. That means providing almost every aspect of home-station support in a package a fraction of the size. 

“This is an incredible opportunity for 86th Airlift Wing personnel to train together like we’d go to war. The team is performing superbly in support of U. S. Air Forces in Europe’s theater engagement strategy,” said Maj. Rob Waarvik, deployed 86th CRG commander.

Simultaneously, the U.S. Army has forces deploying into Constanta to stand up Joint Task Force-East. Also, the U.S. Navy is conducting Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff exercise Sea Breeze. Both are supported by the 86th CRG forces already in place at Constanta. Joint Task Force-East directly requested the 86th CRG support to provide aircraft download and passenger manifesting capability through Constanta’s Mihail Kogalniceanu airport.

Although Mihail Kogalniceanu airport serves as Constanta’s civilian commercial airport, ferrying sun-seeking tourists to this corner of Europe, the military side of the airport is increasingly gaining importance for both Romanian and U.S. forces.  The United States and Romania recently announced plans to use the base more extensively in the future – meaning lots of construction projects on and off the airfield. An airfield manager will conduct an update to the Air Mobility Command Airfield Suitability Report. The information obtained and published from this airfield survey will be vital in the future planning and use of this air base for various types of aircraft and missions, whatever they may be.

The 86th CRG comprised of more than 40 job specialties with many members cross-utilized and trained to perform tasks and duties of each other’s career fields:  Air traffic control officers on the airfield downloading aircraft, weather personnel in the cargo yard building pallets, civil engineers and information managers performing security details, and airfield managers writing articles as the unit public affairs representative.