Air Force Reserve supports one of the largest airlift operations in history

  • Published
  • By Jon Quinlan
  • HQ Air Force Reserve Command

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, GA. -- Reserve Citizen Airmen are playing a huge role in what is being described by senior U.S. government officials as one of the largest airlift operations in history, as Airmen are supporting the evacuation of thousands of people from Afghanistan.

The Defense Department is getting American citizens, Afghans with special immigrant visa applications in process and other vulnerable Afghans out of the country. This will continue to be the No. 1 priority right up until the very end, according to Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby.

Air Force Reserve Command Airmen are contributing to the total force evacuation effort operating 17 aircraft to include, C-17 Globemaster III’s, C-130 Hercules, C-5M Super Galaxy’s, and KC-10 Extender with 73 aircrews and hundreds of maintenance, security, medical and support personnel. These Airmen were activated to ensure safe passage of Americans and Afghan allies from Kabul to locations throughout the globe.

In many cases, Air Force Reserve Airmen are blended into Total Force crews, mixing active duty, Guard and Reserve.

“The United States is the only nation capable of rapidly deploying forces to provide nonstop airlift operations at this scale. It would not be possible without the support of our Total Force—active, guard and Reserve Citizen Airmen—seamlessly integrating to execute the mission” said Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee, AFRC commander and Chief of the Air Force Reserve. “Once again, our Air Force Reservists are proudly answering our nation’s call, responding in less than 24 hours. I’m overwhelmed with pride as all of our Service men and women take care of Americans, our allies and vulnerable Afghans.”

Reserve Citizen Airmen and aircraft from multiple units around the U.S. are contributing, including, but not limited to: the 315th Airlift Wing, Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina; the 445th Airlift Wing, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; 908th Airlift Wing, Maxwell AFB, Alabama; 349th Air Mobility Wing, Travis AFB, California; 911th Airlift Wing, Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania; 514th AW, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, 452nd AMW, March Air Reserve Base, California and more. 

“Nearly 60% of our mobility capacity resides in the air reserve component, underscoring the importance of a Total Force approach,” said Col Mark Villacis, HQ AFRC, Chief of Mobility Operations Division (A3M). “An airlift operation of this historic magnitude can only be executed with Total Force Integration. The partnership between Regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve is key to lifesaving Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations (NEO) under extreme conditions we are experiencing in Kabul Afghanistan.”

About 88,000 American citizens, civilian allies, Afghan special immigrant visa applicants and other vulnerable Afghans have been taken out of harm's way since Aug. 14, Army Maj. Gen. William D. "Hank" Taylor, the Joint Staff's deputy director for regional operations, said at a Pentagon briefing.

During a 24-hour period Aug. 24, he said 42 U.S. military aircraft departed Kabul with 11,200 people and coalition and allied partners flew 7,800 people to safety. Another 10,000 people were at the airport awaiting departure.

"88,000 in the course of just a week, a week and a half is no small feat," Kirby said.

Additionally, on two separate AFRC C-17 air evacuation sorties out of Kabul, the crews assisted in the delivery of two Afghan babies in flight before touching down at coalition airbases.  One baby was named ‘Reach’ after the aircraft call sign. Aircrews from the 315th AW, 445th AW and a flight nurse from the 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron helped in the deliveries along with ground and medical personnel at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar and Ramstein AB, Germany.  

The Air Force Reserve is a predominantly part-time force which, when mobilized, provides full-time support to the Joint Force. In addition to its daily contributions to global operations, it provides rapid surge capability and strategic depth for national defense.