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Why do our enemies fear us?

  • Published
  • By Col. John Cooper
  • 16th Maintenance Group
Date: March, 2004. Location: an Army post somewhere far away from the safety of America, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Air Force Special Operations Command MC-130H Talon II aircraft have been flying tough logistics re-supply missions for months.

The base is in hostile territory and has been completely cut off from any type of ground support due to heavy snows.

Almost every night our special operations aircrews land at locations deemed “too tough” for other aircraft. Mushy mixtures of ice, snow, and mud make life difficult. Each night they bring essential food, gas, and water to our Army brethren. Supplies are low, but adequate. A few day’s left; the Talons keep on delivering.

Back at the expeditionary operations group, maintenance crews climbed all over Talons, which had just returned from making deliveries.

A crew chief is climbing through the nose wheel performing a basic post flight inspection. It’s cold, icy and dark as a coalmine. But, he has to get this inspection done and cleaned up so the Talon can deliver the critical supplies again tomorrow night. That’s when he spots it.

The landing gear support brackets are damaged…problem.

We don’t normally replace these, he thinks; It’s a complicated, forged piece of metal.

He tells his chief. The chief looks at the other aircraft. Bigger problem – the other aircraft’s bracket is also cracked. Months of landing on unimproved airfields at near maximum weight had taken its toll. The supply section looks and searches, but find there are no support brackets to be found in the entire Air Force. Three thousand miles away, the Joint Special Operations Air Component receives word and gets to work.

A conference call is made back to the 16th Special Operations Wing. Squadron maintainers and depot engineers begin evaluating the situation.

The verdict – the aircraft can’t fly a single mission until the bracket is replaced. With no parts available in the Air Force, metal shop technicians step in; “Get us approval, and we can make that part.”

With that challenge, the 16th SOW kicks into high gear. Depot engineers cut through mounds of red tape to receive authorization from Air Force Material Command to locally manufacture the part.

The entire sequence, from identifying the broken part, getting approval, fabricating the part, delivering it 8,000 miles away, receiving and repairing the aircraft took only 96 hours.

Why does the enemy fear us? I believe they fear us because of our men and women in uniform. Men and women who weren’t drafted – not made to serve. They stepped up for love of country, knowing they could be placed in harm’s way. The enemy sees that we’re going to fight and going to win for our country.

They fears us because they see people who volunteered to protect America; these Airmen, who will find a cracked part, in a wheel well, in the dark, in a combat zone 8,000 miles away from friends and family.

They see these air commandos who won’t stop until the task is done. There are hundreds of stories just like this throughout Team Hurlburt from organizations like security forces, civil engineering, mission support and special tactics.

Some air commandos pull a trigger, some fly over hostile territory, and some make parts and fix aircraft. But, every air commando fights to win.