The U.S. military concluded evacuation operations from Afghanistan in support of the Department of State on Aug. 31 and members of Team Tinker were actively involved in the effort.
The 552nd Air Control Wing supported the evacuation efforts by coordinating and de-conflicting airspace, providing long-haul communications and executing data link operations to support air and ground forces.
“Our wing is focused on the present mission and is proud to do our part to facilitate the safe evacuation of all involved,” said Col. Keven Coyle, 552nd ACW commander.
Lt. Col. Steven Bailey, 968th Expeditionary Airborne Air Control Squadron commander, said this was “truly a team effort across the Joint Force, Air Force Central Command, the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing and members from all four of the 552nd ACW groups.”
The E-3 crews worked in close coordination with the 552nd Air Control Group members deployed to the 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron “Kingpin” to ensure the flights into and out of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, were safely de-conflicted from other air traffic while also providing common tactical air picture to the Combined Air Operations Center.
Members of the Sentry Aircraft Maintenance Unit were crucial to the ability to generate 100% of the combat sorties requested by the Combined Forces Air Component commander in direct support of the final flights out of Afghanistan.
Bailey said the crews would not have been able to successfully complete the mission without the 968th EAACS support teams ensuring the aircrew flight equipment was serviceable, the aircraft computer and communications were properly configured, and the aircrew’s flight records and currencies were correct and real-time intelligence support was provided.
Support from back home was also crucial to the mission.
“It is not lost on us that these Airmen are only able to be here to make an impact due to the support, sacrifice and commitment of their family, friends, and teammates, and leaders back home and it is truly needed and appreciated,” he added.
DLA Distribution Oklahoma City immediately responded to an urgent request from the Air Force to ship 11 each critical Life Support Assets valued at over $2.1 million, in support of aircraft operations from McConnell AFB, Kansas. These aircraft were deploying in support of the Afghanistan Evacuation and the assets from Oklahoma City were vital in meeting mission requirements.
Both the 72nd Air Base Wing and 552nd ACW provided personnel to support Joint Task Force Holloman, which will serve as a bed down location for Afghan evacuees, and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, to assist where needed. Multiple other Tinker units are standing by to support when called upon.
According to Department of Defense officials, the U.S. military flew 387 C-17 and C-130 sorties and enabled 391 non-U.S. military sorties between Aug. 14 and Aug. 31.
“A total of 778 sorties evacuated a total of 124,334 people which included almost 6,000 American citizens, third country nationals and Afghans designated by the Department of State,” said Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley.
More than 800,000 American service members and 25,000 civilians served in Afghanistan over the almost 20-year mission. A total of 2,461 U.S. service members and civilians were killed and more than 20,000 were injured.