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"'There I was...': keep the mission moving"

  • Published
  • By Maj. Timmothy Bonnes
  • 310th Airlift Squadron
I was tasked to deploy to the Combined Air Operations Center in Southwest Asia as a distinguished visitor planner. After completing my pre-deployment training at Hurlburt Field, Fla. and through home station mobility events I was ready to go. I had deployed several times before, but this was the first time I would not be flying.

After maintenance and weather delays, three stops and almost 40 hours of traveling I arrived. As with many new jobs, the learning curve was steep, and with only three days of turnover I felt a little overwhelmed. But it didn't take long to find a rhythm and get the hang of my new job.

I was one of four planners responsible for coordinating, planning and executing all DV movements throughout the area of responsibility in support of the Office of Security Cooperation Iraq and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Day in and day out, we built an extremely complex house of cards using the few aircraft that we controlled, as well as many of the other mobility assets deployed to the Area of Responsibility. We worked hand in hand with every element of the Air Mobility Division to secure diplomatic clearances, resolve security concerns and ensure all requirements were loaded for each flight.

Our team also coordinated the movement of onboard communication and comfort equipment when required. Over the six-month time-frame we executed 1,100 missions and moved 140 DVs to include the chief of staff of the Air Force, several congressional delegations, two combatant commanders and the president of Afghanistan.

We were also instrumental in several aeromedical evacuation missions that safely transported injured U.S. and Jordanian soldiers. Enabling the air expeditionary missions was truly one of the most memorable experiences of my entire deployment.

Overall my deployment to the CAOC was a very rewarding and educational experience. It was different to be on the planning and execution side of the mission. It was eye-opening to see all the hard work and coordination that makes the big mobility machine work. There were days when time seemed to stand still, but all-in-all the six months went by quickly. I was fortunate to work with a great group of professionals, reconnect with old friends and build new friendships that will last a lifetime.