728th Air Mobility Squadron: Providing velocity from the front

  • Published
  • By Maj. Norman Wright
  • 728th Air Mobility Squadron
If you have watched the news over the last few months you have probably heard of Incirlik Air Base and its close proximity to the world's troubled spots. Incirlik AB is an important base in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's southern region and is also the home of the men and women of 728th Air Mobility Squadron.

The 728th AMS is a traditional Air Mobility Command en-route squadron, providing expertise in three core competencies: aerial port operations, aircraft maintenance, and command and control. However, the location and the support provided by the squadron is anything but traditional.  The area of responsibility covered by the 728th AMS is Eastern Europe, Africa and Southwest Asia. The squadron is under the command of the 521st Air Mobility Operations Group, headquartered at Rota Air Base, Spain and the 521st Air Mobility Wing, headquartered at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Considered a tenant unit of the 39th Air Base Wing, the 728th AMS and the 39th ABW are actually guests on the installation, which is commanded by a Turkish air force brigadier general.

Incirlik is a very unique base and executing the AMC mission on a Turkish installation has its challenges. The NATO Status of Forces Agreement and Defense Economic Cooperation Agreement provide guidance as how U.S. forces operate in Turkey. For example, all equipment items, unless on the approved list of items that can be brought into the country, need a Turkish Defense Authorization completed in advance. If not, the cargo can be held for up to six weeks, until the paperwork gets approved. Despite the challenges the 728th AMS is able to keep cargo, passengers, airplanes and ultimately the mission moving.

Due to the forward location, the 728th AMS has the privilege of supporting a myriad of missions at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. Currently, the 728th AMS supports Operation Active Fence, which is the deployment of Ballistic Missile Defense systems from the U.S., Spain, and Germany to protect Turkey.  In addition to the deployment and resupply of the BMD systems, the squadron also assists with the deployments of Spanish and German troops.

The 728th AMS also serves as the logistical lifeline to U.S. forces deployed and stationed at Incirlik AB and throughout Turkey.  The U.S. Army, which also participates in Operation Active Fence, utilizes the 728th AMS cargo and passenger terminal to move personnel and equipment in and out of Turkey.  Serving as the gateway to Central Command, many missions stop at Incirlik AB for fuel, crew-rest, maintenance, or transportation of cargo and warfighters downrange.  The Patriot Express mission provides travel support to U.S. military members and their families, as well as providing a space-available capability.

Whatever the challenge, the men and women of the 728th AMS stand ready to support the next big NATO or U.S. operation, providing velocity from the front 24/7, 365 days a year.