March supports Operation Atlantic Resolve

U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Megan Crusher

A C-17 Globemaster III from March Air Reserve Base returned home from Tallin, capitol of the European country, Estonia, in support of Operation ATLANTIC RESOLVE, after redeploying cargo and personnel from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, Sept. 18.

The operation is designed to reaffirm America’s commitment to European security. The U.S. is demonstrating its continued commitment to collective security through a series of actions designed to reassure NATO allies and partners of America’s dedication to enduring peace and stability in the region in light of the Russian intervention in Ukraine.

The 729th Airlift Squadron was tasked with the airlift mission about a month and a half ago, along with three other Air Force Reserve units, said Lt. Col. Tony Astran, C-17 pilot and current operations, 452nd Operations Support Squadron.

Astran coordinated the schedule for the arrival and departure times of the cargo jets and up-loading and off-loading of cargo and personnel so as not to over-saturate the Amari Air Base airfield, he said.

Charleston AFB, South Carolina, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio, and March ARB airlifted approximately 200 Reservists, Air National Guardsmen and active duty Airmen and their equipment to support eight A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the 442nd Fighter Wing at Whitman AFB starting in mid-August.

“Each of the airlift units flew one mission deploying and one mission redeploying the 442nd, with March actually flying two missions on the redeployment end,” said Astran.

Lt. Col. Tim Harris, current operations, 452 OSS, who flew the first C-17 from March in support of the operation, noted the unique aspect of this particular airlift mission.

“It’s very, very rare that an Air Force Reserve fighter squadron deploys overseas and is supported solely, one hundred percent by Air Force Reserve airlift,” he said. “Usually Air National Guard and active duty will help, but this was all Air Force Reserve and that’s pretty awesome.”

While deployed, the 442 FW worked and trained with ANG Joint Terminal Attack Controllers as well as the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian armed forces in various scenarios, and low-level, close air support flying activities.

In the midst of operations, March was able to offer additional assistance when mid-deployment the 442nd needed critical cargo shipped, but had no way to get the cargo approved for flight because they didn’t have the required personnel, Astran said.

“We at March did, so on very short notice we deployed two additional personnel to assist with creating load plans and certifying the cargo to fly,” he said. “It was great for us to be able to help them.”

With so much collaboration between four airlift units, plus refueling support, the 442 FW and Estonian Air Force support at Amari AB, Astran marveled at how relatively smooth the mission went.

“There were a few hiccups, but we overcame the challenges and the Estonian’s worked with us exceedingly well,” he said. “Their support was great.”

The Estonian Air Force, Air Surveillance Wing Commander, Maj. Hardi Lmmergas, agreed with Astran’s assessment, saying they appreciated the U.S. presence to show their adversaries what’s going on and the level of support they have.

According to the U.S. European Command website, “Operation Atlantic Resolve will remain in place as long as the need exists to reassure our allies and deter Russia from regional hegemony.”

It continues with, “In meeting our global security commitments, the United States must have strong, committed and capable allies, which is why we have fought, exercised and trained with our European allies for the past 70 years.”