Air Force maintainers at Manas AB, Kyrgyzstan, like their counterparts at other USAF tanker bases, have the never-ending job of keeping KC-135 aerial refueling aircraft flyable. The ones at Manas are vital to the daily war on terror operations. The maintainers don’t stop for rain, sleet, snow, or heat. The base generally has more KC-135s on hand than fly a day’s sorties, but the maintainers can’t let up because they never know when emergency operations, like last year in Afghanistan, will require almost every aircraft. Air Force journalist SSgt. Lara Gale writes in the Ganci Gazette, “The maintainers’ philosophy is always the same—one disabled jet is one too many.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.