Guiding Avalanche Relief Work

Airmen deployed from the 552nd Air Control Wing at Tinker AFB, Okla., employed their E-3 AWACS to aid relief operations in Afghanistan after a series of 17 avalanches struck Parwan Province Feb. 8, killing dozens and leaving hundreds injured and stranded. They took overall control to guide personnel recovery actions, locating suitable landing areas for rescue helicopters, establishing a restricted air operating zone, and monitoring fuels needs for rescue aircraft. During this relief effort, the AWACS team managed 78 humanitarian support aircraft and kept tabs on about 500 aircraft flying combat sorties over Afghanistan. “We make sure all assets supporting Operation Enduring Freedom as well as the personnel recovery effort are getting to their assigned mission, safely, not running into anyone else, and effectively, making sure they have all information they need,” said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Lipsky, E-3 mission crew commander. (380th Air Expeditionary Wing report by Capt. Cathleen Snow)