386th airfield managers take runway to new heights

Senior Airman Jourdan Chaney, an airfield management specialist with the 386th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron, communicates with air traffic controllers via radio at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, April 30, 2017. Airfield management specialists are the airfield operations eyes on the ground for the air traffic controllers in the tower. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Hehnly)

Senior Airman Jourdan Chaney, an airfield management specialist with the 386th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron, communicates with air traffic controllers via radio at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, April 30, 2017. Airfield management specialists are the airfield operations eyes on the ground for the air traffic controllers in the tower. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Hehnly)

Senior Airman Jourdan Chaney, an airfield management specialist with the 386th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron, identifies safety hazards on the runway at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, April 30, 2017. Airfield management specialists manage airfield operations to ensure a safe, effective, and efficient airfield environment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Hehnly)

Senior Airman Jourdan Chaney, an airfield management specialist with the 386th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron, identifies safety hazards on the runway at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, April 30, 2017. Airfield management specialists manage airfield operations to ensure a safe, effective, and efficient airfield environment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Hehnly)

Airman 1st Class Derrik Bush and Senior Airman Jourdan Chaney, both airfield management specialists with the 386th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron man the phones at the operations desk in an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. A minimum of two airfield management specialists work around the clock manning the operations desk, processing flight plans, inputting prior permission requests for incoming aircraft and relaying restrictions and notices to airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Hehnly)

Airman 1st Class Derrik Bush and Senior Airman Jourdan Chaney, both airfield management specialists with the 386th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron man the phones at the operations desk in an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. A minimum of two airfield management specialists work around the clock manning the operations desk, processing flight plans, inputting prior permission requests for incoming aircraft and relaying restrictions and notices to airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Hehnly)

SOUTHWEST ASIA – Managing an airfield is never an easy task, especially when it’s one of the busiest in the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility and owned and controlled by a host nation. Responsible for the overall continuity of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing’s airfield, the airfield management specialists ensure that all takeoffs and landings, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, can advance without incident.

Airfield management’s role in the wing’s mission is multifaceted. Ensuring the entire airfield is a safe environment and free of hazards to aircraft is an essential function to maintaining the ability for the U.S. Air Force to deliver quick and decisive airpower downrange in the fight against ISIS. Airfield management specialists maintain communication with wing and host nation entities to coordinate the upkeep and safety of the airfield. The 386th AEW’s mission depends as much on the upkeep of the airfields as it does on its many other functions.

“With this being a major hub for C-130 and C-17 aircraft, our runways take a beating.” said Master Sgt. Kimberly Blackwell, the airfield manager with the 386th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron. “We ensure the runway and pavement are kept in the best condition and that there is quick response in cases of emergency repairs.”

Inspections of the airfield’s runways, lighting and airfield clearance areas are conducted regularly to identify discrepancies and safety hazards that need addressing. Keeping the runway functional and clear of foreign object debris and wildlife maintains the ability for aircraft to take off at a moment’s notice.

A minimum of two airfield management specialists work around the clock manning the operations desk, processing flight plans, inputting prior permission requests for incoming aircraft, and relaying restrictions and notices to airmen.

In cases of aircraft emergencies, one airfield management specialist makes immediate notifications to all organizations involved and the second will respond to the scene to ensure the safety of the environment and the readiness of the runway.

“We are the eyes on the ground for the air traffic controllers in the tower,” said Senior Airman Jourdan, Chaney, an airfield management specialist with the 386th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron. “If the tower has any ground-related questions, the airfield manager responds.”

Communication is constant for the airfield managers and the air traffic controllers as they work together to track arrivals and departures of all aircrafts and ensure the readiness of the runway.

When they aren’t manning the operations desk or minimizing runway hazards, the small team of airfield management specialists is busy managing parking plans for transient and base assigned aircraft, overseeing airfield construction projects and the flightline driving program.

“We do a lot of the behind the scenes planning to get guys in and out of here,” said Master Sgt. Kimberly Blackwell. “We feel the impact we have on the mission by processing flight plans and making sure the runway is in good condition so cargo planes can land and take off to get things done further downrange.”