Col. Bill Ward talks about the people and resources needed to keep the busy flightline running at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Ward is the commander of the 86th Operations Group.
The flightline at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, is busy.
Air Mobility Command aircraft deliver cargo and passengers around the clock. Planes from allied nations frequently stop at Ramstein, going to and from locations throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
At the heart of this activity is the base’s host unit, the 86th Airlift Wing, which operates nearly 30 flights each day in support of operations ranging from combat airlift to distinguished visitor transport and aeromedical evacuations. Being the base’s host unit, the 86th AW is responsible for more than just flightline operations. From traffic control and base security to maintenance and building management, the wing does it all.
The 86th AW is so busy, in fact, that instead of being made up of four groups like many wings, it is actually made up of six – the extra two being a logistics readiness group and a civil engineer group.
The wing’s fleet, consisting of one C-40B Clipper, two C-20H Gulfstream IV, 10 C-21A Learjets, one C-37 Gulfstream V and 14 C-130J Super Hercules, flies more than 8,000 hours, carries approximately 150,000 passengers and hauls more than 5,000 cargo tons per year in support of the U.S. European Command and operations in the Middle East and Africa.
The people make the wing run, and the 86th AW has a lot of them. With more than 9,000 military members and Department of Defense civilians and more than 12,000 family members, the wing is part of the Kaiserslautern Military Community, which is comprised of 13,000 military members, 9,000 Department of Defense civilians, and more than 25,000 family members. The KMC also employs more than 6,000 host nationals. When combined with military retirees and their dependents, the KMC has a population of more than 54,000 American citizens, making it the largest concentration of Americans outside the United States.
“The mission here is supported by the entire team,” said Col. Bill Ward, commander of the 86th Operations Group. “And at their work centers or their spot on the flightline, or wherever it is they work, they contribute to the mission professionally and with excellence across the board.”