Sheppard-trained AGE Airmen support Polish mission

Senior Airman Melissa Jones, 332nd Expeditionary Maintenance Group  aerospace ground equipment journeyman, monitors gauges on an A/M32A-60A generator, commonly referred to as a Dash 60, during an inspection at the 407th Air Expeditionary Group, Feb. 27, 2017. The AGE Airmen maintain the ground equipment needed to service transient aircraft.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Benjamin Wilson)(Released)

Senior Airman Melissa Jones, a 332nd Expeditionary Maintenance Group aerospace ground equipment specialist, monitors gauges on an A/M32A-60A generator, commonly referred to as a Dash 60, during an inspection at the 407th Air Expeditionary Group in Southwest Asia, Feb. 27, 2017. The AGE Airmen maintain the ground equipment needed to service transient aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Benjamin Wilson)

Staff Sgt. Adan Nunez and Senior Airman Melissa Jones, both 332nd Expeditionary Maintenance Group aerospace ground equipment specialists, inspect an A/M32A-60A generator, commonly referred to as a Dash 60, at the 407th Air Expeditionary Group, Feb. 27, 2017. The Dash 60 is used to provide auxiliary power to transient aircraft delivering supplies and personnel to the base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Benjamin Wilson)(Released)

Staff Sgt. Adan Nunez and Senior Airman Melissa Jones, both 332nd Expeditionary Maintenance Group aerospace ground equipment specialists, inspect an A/M32A-60A generator, commonly referred to as a Dash 60, at the 407th Air Expeditionary Group in Southwest Asia, Feb. 27, 2017. The Dash 60 is used to provide auxiliary power to transient aircraft delivering supplies and personnel to the base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Benjamin Wilson)

SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- When people think of generating, executing and sustaining combat airpower, ground equipment is not usually the first thing to come to mind.

However, the Airmen assigned to the aerospace ground equipment shop at the 407th Air Expeditionary Group ensure mission success every day by providing the aircrew and maintainers everything needed while on the ground to ensure they take off again without delay.

“They’ll use air conditioners to cool off the avionics … generators for engine runs … and stands to get on top of and fix the aircraft,” said Senior Airman Melissa Jones, a 332nd Expeditionary Maintenance Group AGE specialist. “In the simplest terms, we work on the equipment that is needed for the aircraft.”

Although the mission is most visible when that equipment is on the flightline hooked up to aircraft, the majority of an AGE Airman’s work happens in the back shop.

“Most of my job is preventative maintenance,” Jones said. “We fix stuff before it breaks.”

The three Airmen assigned to the 332nd EMXG, who are forward deployed to the 407th AEG, run inspections on about 30 of their 74 pieces of equipment every month.

Those inspections include a detailed list of tasks specified for each piece of equipment, from checking the tires and the coolant levels, to topping off the oil and fuel. Once the inspections are complete the equipment is returned to the ready line, with confidence that it will be fully operable once on the flightline.

The primary customer on the installation at this time is the transient alert office, which is responsible for ensuring the smooth arrival and departure of transient aircraft on base.

Tech. Sgt. Mark Sullivan, the 332nd EMXG TA quality assurance evaluator, said the AGE shop’s role is a critical component in executing his mission.

“What our guys do is they hook up an alternate power unit so they can shut down the power to an aircraft and then this AGE unit is hooked up so they have power to run and don’t have to use the airplane’s power,” Sullivan said. “We’re not able to do that if the equipment is not working right.”

In addition to supporting the TA mission, the AGE airmen work very closely with their Polish counterparts on the flightline.

“When my guys need help, they borrow something – the cables to charge for example – from the Americans,” said Polish Air Force Capt. Adrian Gaszewski, the technical back shop commander.

Gaszewski is no stranger to working with his American counterparts. He has participated in military cooperation exercises in the U.S., Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, and in his home country of Poland.

These experiences have helped him understand the mutual benefits that can be achieved for both nations by working together and facilitating an open dialogue when problems arise.

“We had a malfunction with the fuel leakage,” Gaszewski said. “The American guys saw an easy way to repair the aircraft and we learned from this. We are an alliance.”

Building partnerships with coalition nations operating on the installation is just one of the ways the AGE shop is improving mission effectiveness.

One of the primary focus areas for the unit has been improving upon existing programs or implementing new programs as needed to improve the mission.

One example of a program the AGE Airmen have implemented involves load-testing aircraft jacks.

Previously, the unit was required to take its aircraft jacks to another installation about an hour-and-a-half drive away to load test them. Since the load-testing program has been implemented locally, they can perform those tests here, saving three hours to work on other mission essential tasks.

The AGE shop has also implemented a safety and hazardous waste disposal program in the past few months.

“We came in here and there was just so much to get started,” Jones said. “But now that we have all these programs established and things are running more smoothly, it has become a lot easier.”