SOUTHWEST ASIA -- The 379th Expeditionary Operational Support Squadron is tasked with the demanding job of managing an entire airfield.
An airfield manager’s job encompasses almost anything that deals with the airfield, said Tech. Sgt. Michael Adams, 379th EOSS airfield manager and reservist deployed from Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga. One of those aspects is safety.
“We are here to ensure the safety of the airfield,” Sergeant Adams said. “We make sure that obstructions are not interfering with operations, we clear zones around the runway and taxiways, and we make sure there’s ample lighting to complete the mission.”
In order to ensure the safety of the airfield, the managers perform frequent inspections on the flightline as well as check for foreign object debris.
“If FOD gets in one of these engines, it could do serious damage,” the sergeant said.
The airfield managers are also responsible for keeping the flightline up to current standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, said Staff Sgt. Meyoka Sherrod, 379th EOSS airfield manager deployed from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. This includes making sure aircraft are parked far away enough from each other and that the runways are being used properly.
In dealing with safety, airfield managers also respond to emergencies that arise on the flightline.
“We respond to (airfield emergencies) because we are the managers,” Sergeant Adams said. “We make sure that the equipment is removed that has to be removed and that there are no obstructions remaining at that incident site. We have to make sure that no equipment is left and that there is no FOD and chemical or fuel spills so that space can be used again.”
Not only do the airfield managers make sure the flightline is safe from FOD and other hazardous items, they make sure those driving on the airfield are safe.
“We administer the flightline drivers program here,” Sergeant Adams said. “We make sure flightline drivers are proficient in what they do.”
Making sure people have the right knowledge to be on the flightline is key to safety and managing an airfield, he said. The airfield managers test those wanting a flightline drivers permit to make sure they have that knowledge to keep everyone safe.
“We also have the right to stop anyone out on the flightline and ask them for their license,” the sergeant added.
Airfield managers also process the paperwork that allows aircraft to land or take off from here.
“Here we process flight plans, make sure they are accurate and send them up to the host nation air traffic control facility,” Sergeant Sherrod said. “We also have to make sure there is enough parking for incoming aircraft, and we make sure they have the proper (diplomatic) clearance.”
The airfield managers also make sure everything is coordinated with the tactical air combat control center as well as process distinguished visitors, she said.
“When we get a call saying that a DV is coming in, we make sure that we have adequate parking and that the aircraft can be held here,” Sergeant Sherrod said. “We also make sure they have adequate security by letting security forces know that they are coming in and we coordinate with trans-alert ground crews.”
Despite performing many of the same tasks they would stateside, deployed airfield managers have taken on more responsibilities, Sergeant Adams said.
One of those new responsibilities is an increased role with the aircraft parking program. Airfield managers typically design the parking spaces, and then control of those spaces is turned over to the trans-alert ground crews, the sergeant said.
“Here it’s a little different in that we administer parking a little more than we would do back in the U.S.,” he said. “Normally, in the U.S, when an aircraft lands the trans-alert people decide where they want to park an aircraft, but here the airfield managers decide where that aircraft is going to go.”
This added responsibility is because the base has a diverse mission which requires different ramps for different types of aircraft, Sergeant Adams said. Each aircraft assigned here typically has its own spot, and when an aircraft comes in to the base, airfield managers have to decide where it is going to be parked.
Despite the stresses placed on the airfield managers, both Sergeants Adams and Sherrod find their work here rewarding.
“Well, it’s a personal experience for me because I am prior service and I thought it was a good way to continue serving,” said Sergeant Adams who has more than 30 years’ experience as an air traffic controller.