Lajes transient alert propels mission forward

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman John R. Wright
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 65th Air Base Group at Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal, known as the “Crossroads of the Atlantic,” provides an important mid-Atlantic link for U.S. and Allied forces traveling to and from Europe, Africa and the Middle East.


The group enables expeditionary movement of warfighters and warplanes, and global communications to combatant commanders, supporting joint, coalition and NATO operations.


At the front lines of this mission are the Airmen of the 65th Air Base Squadron’s transient alert section.


“I’m proud of our transient alert section for remaining flexible and having the ability to support when additional manpower support was delayed,” said Connor McKown, 65th ABS director of operations. “With their current manning structure, daily support schedule and 24/7 on-call status, this operational flexibility requires the team to be highly resilient.”


The team provides critical ground maintenance support to multiple aircraft, from bombers and fighters to tankers and cargo.


“Each of us have only worked on one or maybe two different aircraft prior to coming to Lajes,” said Staff Sgt. Clayton Fowler, 65th ABS transient alert technician. “After getting here, we have to learn from each other on how to handle all the different aircraft that come through. We have to become multi-capable Airmen.”


Lajes transient alert Airmen are also capable of performing pre-flight maintenance on running aircraft to prevent delays and ensure deployed units get to their destinations safely.


“In the instance of a coronet coming through here, the maintenance team of the unit coming through isn’t always able to be on location at the same time, so we have to receive aircraft with a smaller number of personnel,” Fowler said. “When those aircraft have maintenance needs, we have to adapt to the situation and address those needs to keep them on schedule to reach their destination.”


More than a refueling pit stop, Lajes and the Airmen who support its operations provide expeditionary forces with a strategically located and welcome checkpoint, executing any and all mission-essential requirements.


“This location is critical to stage assets and support movements from the U.S. to any Western theater,” McKown said. “Our adaptive Airmen give Lajes the unique capability to project global air power with any aircraft at any time.”


As one of the 86th Airlift Wing’s geographically separated units from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, the 65th ABG is strategically located to play a vital role in combat operations by serving as a trans-Atlantic bridge for the Department of Defense, allied nations and other authorized aircraft. By providing base and transient support, the GSU moves aircraft, aircrews and pilots forward to mission success safely, quickly and efficiently.