AFSPC brings the heat

A deicer truck deices the Air Force Two on the flightline Oct. 27, 2017, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The truck was transported to Buckley from the 21st Logistics Readiness Squadron on Peterson AFB. (Courtesy photo)

A deicer truck sits on the flightline Oct. 26th, 2017, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The deicer was used to melt the ice off of the Air Force Two to allow for a safe departure. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jake Deatherage)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- During a recent visit to the Denver-Metro area, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson utilized the Buckley Air Force Base flightline for the security and safety of Air Force Two. This visit allowed Team Buckley to demonstrate their ability to solve a problem through total force coordination.

Due to a forecasted storm and an unforeseen maintenance issue, the Buckley AFB airfield was unexpectedly without an operational deicer truck with the Vice President’s arrival less than 20 hours away.

The problem was identified after duty hours, and options were few. Renting a unit from nearby airports was expensive and uncertain; the cost to rent a unit would be an estimated $30,000. If the expected storm arrived, major airports would need to retain the deicing capability for their operations. Smaller airports didn’t have equipment large enough to service Air Force Two.

That left the 460th Space Wing with the option to ask for support from Peterson AFB, 70 miles to the south. The 460th Mission Support Group deputy commander, Lt. Col. Meghan Szwarc, engaged her counterpart, Mr. Craig Biondo, in the 21st Space Wing to determine whether they could support this emergent need. In spite of the late hour, after a round of phone calls to determine availability and assess risk, by 9:00 p.m. a plan was developed and ready for execution.

The 21st Logistics Readiness Squadron on Peterson AFB agreed to lend one of their deicer trucks, agreeing to departure the following day. Originally, the deicer was supposed to be transported on a trailer, but it didn’t fit safely for transport so it had to be driven at a very slow speed. Air Mobility Command, responsible for Presidential and Vice Presidential transport, was tracking this event to ensure the safety and security of Air Force Two.

The 21 LRS, the 460 LRS and the 460 MSG carefully coordinated the expeditious journey of the deicer by sending an experienced driver from Buckley along with a 140th Wing Air National Guard mechanic and Mobile Maintenance Unit to Colorado Springs in order to have them drive the truck safely back to Aurora. After a four-hour drive, the unit arrived on Buckley AFB prior to the Vice President’s arrival.

“Ultimately this was about safety, and through our collaborative efforts we managed to get the people and equipment there and back without any accidents,” said Lt. Col. Joshua Schaad, 21 LRS commander.

This event shows how effective communication and coordination between bases, MAJCOMs, and Active and Air Guard components can make accomplishing the mission possible. It underscores the collaborative nature of our Air Force mission, and demonstrates the unhesitating willingness of AFSPC units to lend crucial support when another base calls.

"The success of this effort was in large part due to our ongoing partnership with the 21st Space Wing which resulted in another exceptional team effort to make the mission happen,” stated Lt. Col. Danielle Kirk, 460 LRS commander. “The 21 LRS vehicle management team was instrumental in preparing the deicer for movement and the 140 LRS vehicle management team members provided essential mobile maintenance support which ensured the 460 LRS was able to help provide this short-notice flightline capability; it was truly a team effort.”