OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea (AFNS) — In an effort to deter aggression, fighter aircraft routinely fly while troops on the ground mobilize and train to defend South Korea. However, there still lies another piece to the puzzle.
That puzzle piece is none other than the 607th Air Mobility Division.
“We control air refueling, air drops, air resupply, and essentially any kind of movement as far as cargo, supplies, people and fuel,” said Brig. Gen. Steven P. Bullard, the 607th Air Operations Center director of mobility forces and Kentucky Air National Guard chief of staff. “We’re looking primarily at in-air refueling missions. We need to be able to resupply everything from reconnaissance aircraft to fighter and cargo jets.”
The mobility division is responsible for keeping people, aircraft and cargo in flight.
“In addition to tankers, we also consist of airlift planners and aeromedical evacuation technicians,” said Capt. Danny Velo, the Air Mobility Division deputy chief. “One of our biggest challenges is getting noncombatant evacuees off of the peninsula and out of harm’s way.”
The last thing U.S. and South Korean armed forces want is for civilians to be caught between crosshairs of a potential war with a dangerous adversary in an austere environment. So in a wartime scenario, all civilians would either move or be escorted south and air mobility’s job would be to fly those individuals out.
“We would evacuate civilians to safe havens off peninsula and the United States,” Bullard said. “That’s a real challenge in a dynamic threat environment. So we’re looking at all of our options to see how we can make that happen.”
When members in the 607th AMD review their options, there are several safety precautions they must evaluate before they make a decision.
“Upon entry into a hostile environment, we must constantly monitor the threat levels,” Bullard said. “So we’re constantly evaluating to see where we can open an airfield and make some modifications to the process to allow people to be transported out.”
To make modifications, it is necessary for the U.S. military to have a good working relationship with government leaders in the host nation.
“The wonderful thing about the South Korean government is that in a wartime environment, their civil aircraft can nationalize and those aircraft then become part of (the South Korean air force),” Bullard said. “We can then utilize those in the appropriate threat environment to carry passengers and cargo.”
Not only will the assistance from the host nation help, but it will also make it easier and faster to escort noncombatants out of the war zone.
“Air mobility is the glue that holds everything together. It’s a lot of fun to work because it’s very dynamic,” Bullard said. “One of the great things about Air Mobility Command is that it’s just a very rewarding job. We work behind the scenes in such a variety of missions and it’s essential to the entire process.”