By Staff Sgt. Mike Andriacco, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service
Oct. 26, 2007 - Keeping aircraft flying and warfighters supplied in Afghanistan is a challenging job, but one done gladly by members of the 455th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron Supply Flight here. An estimated $50 million in equipment and supplies, everything from aircraft weapon system parts to office supplies, makes its way through the flight every month.
Only 21 airmen work in ELRS Supply, but they have the responsibility for managing all supply functions for the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing and eight forward operating bases, said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Brian Miller, the flight superintendent.
One of the greatest challenges is meeting the diverse needs of operations throughout the country, Miller added.
Nearly $190 million of the more than $200 million in assets maintained by supply is kept in contingency high priority mission support kits, or CHPMSKs, which provide essential parts for immediate needs.
The kits primarily are used to support aircraft maintainers, and any parts removed are automatically replenished from various locations throughout Afghanistan and the United States, said Air Force Staff Sgt. Ivonne Collado, CHPMSK noncommissioned officer in charge. This process ensures maintenance flights have enough parts to keep the planes in the air, despite regular operations in often harsh environments.
Miller also added that when it comes to ordering parts, customers should remember that an order can sometimes take longer to arrive if it is a lower-priority asset, as it can get bumped from a flight by a higher-priority part.
"The experience can be better for everyone if they remember we face logistical challenges and need them to be patient while we do everything we can to get them the items they need," Miller said.
"Without this process and the supply airmen managing it, getting the parts needed to repair aircraft would be very difficult and could lead to grounded aircraft, rather than aircraft that are able to complete their missions," Miller said. "You can't fly without supply."
(Air Force Staff Sgt. Mike Andriacco is assigned to 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs.)