by Senior Airman Benjamin Stratton
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
7/12/2013 – SOUTHWEST ASIA — Moving cargo and personnel from location to location within the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility can be quite the feat, but for 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron Airmen in the air terminal operations center here, it’s their “bread and butter.”
“We have the most diverse mission sets transit through here every day,” said Staff Sgt. John Hubicsak, an 8th EAMS ATOC information controller deployed from Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
On average, the ATOC handles more than 7,000 tons of cargo, 6,600 passengers with 250 tons of baggage and more than 725 aircraft each month making them the busiest mobility hub in the AOR.
“Coordination is our game,” Hubicsak said. “We gather information about every aircraft’s mission from the flight manifest as they make their way through here and disperse the pertinent information out to the work centers that need it.”
ATOC is responsible for constantly monitoring airlift missions and providing updates to various agencies across 8th EAMS and the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing.
“We coordinate with 379th AEW agencies, handle aeromedical evacuation patients and ship a lot of blood to medical units in Afghanistan,” said Hubicsak. “We support all the tankers and fighters coming through here with cargo and passengers of their own, as well as C-130 [Hercules] crews who hop in and out of the smaller forward operating bases in theater.”
Hubicsak said not only is ATOC responsible for informing the “Mighty Ocho’s” maintenance operations center of requirements, but also complete load planning as they organize the cargo for movement to tell load masters what to expect from the load.
“They’re very helpful in providing us the information we need to know to accomplish our mission,” said Airman 1st Class Brittany McGarrity, an 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron C-17 Globemaster III loadmaster deployed from Joint Base Charleston, S.C. “The technical data they provide is instrumentally important as we mathematically preplan the correct placement of the load on the airplane to ensure it can safely fly.”
McGarrity added the information ATOC provides enables her and the cargo jet’s aircrew to deliver the supplies, equipment and people to their destination so the joint warfighters down range have what they need to perform their duties, wherever they may be.
“What’s most fulfilling for me is being so involved in something and knowing your decisions directly impact the quality of life for folks down range,” said Hubicsak. “Our cargo provides deployed service members with things like power and fuel to keep air conditioners running in living quarters so they have a comfortable place to rest their head at night after hours in the sweltering heat of the desert.”
But it’s not just the forward deployed service member relying on these ATOC Airmen.
“I depend on these guys every day,” said Master Sgt. Travis Crane, the 8th EAMS ATOC superintendent deployed from Joint Base Charleston, S.C. “I’ve only been here a month and the continuity and experience my guys provide the mission every day is phenomenal. Without them, we couldn’t complete the mission as efficiently and flawlessly as we do it.”
Units across the base, in some form or another, support the “Ocho’s” vast mission set, but it’s one office coordinating, talking, gathering and dispersing the information around to get the mission done.
“It’s really gratifying that I can make so many different agencies come together to support the joint warfighter in the way we do it,” Hubicsak said. “We’re always forward thinking in order to save the Air Force time and money.”
[Editor’s note: This article is part two of an eight part series highlighting the unique missions accomplished by the Airmen of 8th EAMS.]