ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Earlier this month the United States Air Force 36th Contingency Response Squadron (CRS) sent two cargo load teams to Royal Air Force (RAAF) Base East Sale, Australia, to move supplies in support of Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST 2019-20.
What was scheduled as an interoperability training exercise transformed into an increase in supply movement and passenger transport at RAAF East Sale because of recent wildfires consuming Australia with 26 million acres spread out across the country. For comparison, the state of Kentucky is almost 26 million acres.
“Interoperability training is important because organizational and technical differences can be difficult to overcome,” said Capt. Jim Daniels, 36th CRS assistant director of operations. “RAAF Ground Crew (movements) and USAF Air Transportation personnel jobs are, at the core, very similar but their processes and equipment are quite different.”
36th CRS Airmen ultimately began assisting RAAF service members with humanitarian efforts, helping local wildlife receive medical attention from local veterinarians.
“Flying wallabies actually made me feel like we were doing something to help the real world other than just loading and downloading boxes, “ said Airman 1st Class Courtney Parmer, 36th CRS arial port journeyman.
Daniels said that everything was different for the CRS working at RAAF East Sale, from the personnel protective equipment and handling equipment (forklifts) to even the aircraft.
“We primarily loaded the C-27J Spartan, which is not in the USAF inventory,” Daniels said. “The procedures are different. RAAF movers often fly with the aircraft to download the equipment upon arrival where the USAF typically has separate teams at each location.”
The 36th CRS mission is to provide rapidly deployable airbase opening capabilities in order to initiate and sustain airfield operations anywhere in the Pacific area of responsibility.
Deploying cargo load teams is a subset of the 36th CRS, and cargo load teams play a vital role in airbase openings.
“This kind of training gives valuable hands-on experience with equipment and processes, and creates strategic relationships when the 36th CRS is called on to respond,” Daniels said.