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ALCF duty application an involved process

Posted 6/14/2012   Updated 6/14/2012 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Joe Yanik
512th Airlift Wing

6/14/2012 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Want to become a member of an Air Force Reserve Command airlift control flight?

According to Maj. Shirley M. Whitney of the 512th ALCF at Dover Air Force Base, Del., the best way to find out what opportunities are available is to call one of 4th Air Force's five such flights. Units exist at Charleston AFB, S.C.; Lackland AFB, Texas; Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass.; and March ARB, Calif., in addition to at Dover.

"It takes ALCF members several years to train and become fully qualified members of the unit," said Lt. Col. Mark F. Visco, commander of the 512th flight. "It's a difficult qualification for Citizen Airmen to achieve."

They train to rapidly mobilize and deploy to support combatant commanders. They conduct autonomous operations from austere locations or can augment the infrastructure at established civilian or military airfields.

"We can be sent to any location ranging from a fully functional air base to a dirt strip in Africa under combat conditions," said Visco. "We routinely deploy in support of multi-service and multi-national operations. Depending on the location, we can bring with us a host of other functions."

Taskings can come from AFRC or Air Mobility Command and be for military or humanitarian missions. In the event of a natural disaster, the flights deploy first responders out of their home stations to locations around the world. The 512th's reservists deployed to Homestead ARB, Fla., in early 2010 following the earthquake in Haiti. At the peak of operations, 250 people were under 512th command.

"It turned out to be a record-setting operation for AFRC," said Visco. "We handled over 600 sorties and 2,000 Haitian refugees in two weeks, working 24 hours a day."
As a result, the 512th team was named ALCF of the Year for 2010 by both AFRC and AMC.

While at their home bases, flights consist of rated and non-rated officers, airfield managers, command and control specialists, personnelists, loadmasters and air refueling specialists, along with various communications and power production specialties. When deployed, other agencies such as intelligence, weather, aircraft maintenance, aerial port, security forces and contracting may be added to the team, depending upon the specific mission.

Flights must be able to deploy within 36 hours and provide air and logistical coordination for all incoming and outgoing aircraft. Deployments within a contingent emergency element - the name for ALCFs when abroad -- can last two weeks or even a month or two if sent to a bare base environment. Flight members generally perform 60 to 90 days of active-duty service annually on top of unit training assembly and annual tour responsibilities.

Joining an ALCF is different from the usual process that begins with a recruiter: instead, flight commanders hold review boards to conduct face-to-face interviews with each applicant.

"We have a rigorous interview process, we only hire the best and it shows when we get out there and complete the mission," said Visco.

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