DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas — Being stationed in the middle of Central America can bring unknowns, but one thing the U.S. Airmen at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, can rely on is Air Mobility Command to deliver anytime, anyplace.
A 317th Airlift Wing C-130J crew here completed a routine global channel mission to provide sustainment and supplies to Airmen supporting U.S. Southern Command Joint Task Force-Bravo in Honduras Oct. 18.
“As a wing, we provide tactical airlift worldwide,” said Col. David Owens, 317th AW commander. “While we specialize in austere locations by going where not all aircraft can go, we also provide strategic airlift by completing channel missions to bring supplies and equipment to our teammates stationed in remote locations such as Honduras.”
The 317th AW alternates the resupply mission with the 19th AW at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas. Planners at the 618th Air Operations Center at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, plan each channel mission and balance mission requirements before determining what aircraft will be best suited for the mission.
"C-130Js are usually the aircraft of choice for these weekly channel missions," said Mr. Robert Gilmore, 618th AOC, Global Channel Operations planner. "They use less fuel than a C-17 or C-5, and the amount of goods or supplies in the sustainment cargo pipeline doesn't require a larger aircraft. At the end of the day, mission effect is what matters, but the 618th AOC planners also do their best to make sure the aircraft is efficiently utilized."
When 618th AOC Global Channel Operations plan their channel missions, they also determine routing, plan for weather, coordinate diplomatic clearances, determine airfield ramp space, and check for fuel availability, in addition to determining the most efficient aircraft for the channel cargo requirement. Aircraft commanders like Capt. Michael Mayor, 40th Airlift Squadron at Dyess AFB, ensure the mission is executed.
“One of the biggest challenges is coordinating with all the different agencies required when completing a mission like this,” said Mayor. “The 618th AOC provides the big picture planning, but as the aircraft commander, I ensure the needs of the crew are taken care of, and we, as a crew, are communicating with all necessary agencies to make this run smoothly.”
Putting his words into action, Mayor and his team delivered the pallets to the Airmen in Honduras ensuring they too have what they need to complete their mission in Central America.
“This channel mission provides us with the all the things we need out here in Honduras,” said Staff Sgt. Cameron Lim, an air transporter assigned to the 612th Air Base Squadron at Soto Cano AB. “During these channel missions, these C-130s deliver anything we need like food, supplies, household goods and even blood. Anything requested by those stationed here comes to us through a channel mission like this.”
In addition, the 317th AW completes routine global channel missions to Thule Air Base, Greenland, periodically.