496 ABS projects airpower from Morón

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Megan M. Beatty
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Nestled between Spanish mountains, olive groves, sunflower fields and farmlands lies one of the U.S. Air Force’s smallest – yet most critical – bases.

As Morón Air Base’s host squadron, the 496th Air Base Squadron provides the same type of support functions as any other group, wing or installation but with approximately 500 personnel. In comparison the 86th Airlift Wing also provides installation host support and is operated by nearly 8,500 members, further shining light on the work of 496th ABS Airmen.

The 496th ABS provides combat and quality-of-life support to deployed and transient military forces, along with support for permanent party personnel and their families. The 496th ABS has supported anything from bomber task forces, refueler deployments, and fighter jet coronets, to annual drill training for reservists and hosting Marine Corps Rapid Response Forces over the last few years.

“Morón Air Base is in a key location in southwestern Europe – close to both North Africa and the United States – and the U.S. Air Force’s only base in Spain,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Curry, 496th ABS commander. “Our mission is to provide reception, staging, onward movement, integration, base operating support, and senior airfield authority for all transient, temporary duty, and deployed forces to project power across the area of responsibility with our Allies and partners. This is all accomplished by the 496th ABS as the host and sole squadron at Morón.”

The squadron is made of seven flights spanning airfield operations, security forces, civil engineer, logistics, force support, contracting, communications, and installation management functions. The flights consist of 44 air force specialties to support the various missions that transit through the base, all working in sync with each other to execute a wide berth of mission sets.

“The squadron executes duties normally held by more than half a dozen squadrons and at the group and wing levels at a main operating base,” said Curry. “The scope of mission requirements at Morón requires the flights to act as mini squadrons and be the subject matter experts in their functional areas. This is a lot of responsibility for young company grade officers and senior NCOs, but allows for swift, tactical-level execution with decision making delegated to the most appropriate corners of base operations.”

In addition to 200 Airmen and civilians in the 496th, Morón AB has approximately 300 contractors to help keep the mission going. Achieving the reputation as the Air Force’s premier air base squadron could not be possible without the support of Spanish Allies, local national employees and contractors, said Tech. Sgt. John Sinclair, 496th ABS Contracting Flight noncommissioned officer in charge of infrastructure support.

“In Spain, especially in the area surrounding Morón, English is not a very common second language,” said Sinclair. “Being a short tour, the local national employees are our continuity and are vital to our mission. They understand the culture, the processes and the language. We wouldn't be able to succeed without them.”

Since Morón AB’s activation in 1953, the base has been operating side-by-side with U.S. and Spanish Allies. This relationship has enabled the base to be home to fighter jets, bombers and refuelers. Although the number of personnel and the mission set has fluctuated throughout the years, today the Airmen of the 496th ABS stand ready to project air power for any mission thrown their way.