'Ramp-tramps' keep operation on the move...
As the British airbridge to the Gulf continue apace, UK Mobile Air Movements Squadron has been providing the essential expertise in moving hundreds of troops and tons of kit and equipment.
The Lyneham based squadron, commanded by Wg Cdr John Bessell, is also maintaining a number of UK commitments supporting the operation, including teams working at the main air mounting centre at South Cerney.
Personnel are working with J and K model Hercules, Tristars and C-17s, as well as a number of multi-national civilian passenger and freight aircraft.
Assisted by auxiliary movers of 4624 Squadron, MAMS personnel have moved more than 1,000,000kg of freight, 51,551kgs of bags and around 690 passengers through Lyneham since February 1.
Due to the versatility of the Hercules, more than 70 vehicles, from Land Rovers to quad bikes have been flown to the Gulf.
A squadron spokesman said, "As one of the RAF's air combat units, UKMAMS will invariably be one of the first airfield enablers into any theatre.
Speaking of the operation in the Gulf, he added: “While the common or garden ‘ramp tramp’ is a noble profession, squadron personnel pride themselves on their excellent all-round specialist knowledge of all things ‘air transport’ and, as such, this expertise has been much sought after.
“In addition to airfield duties, movers have found themselves firmly ensconced with multi-national and tri-service headquarters, providing valuable support and advice, thus ensuring the smooth flow of aircraft, personnel and equipment into theatre.
Squadron personnel have been working closely with the American forces and soldiers from 29 Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps. UKMAMS have around 75 per cent of its deployable personnel liberally scattered worldwide. They will no doubt be there to greet personnel as they scurry off a Hercules ramp or down the aircraft steps into the dizzying lights and arid atmosphere of the Middle East.”
Bulk supplies are unloaded from an Antonov by UKMAMS personnel
Unloading pallets inside the C-17's hold. One aircraft can deliver
over 100,000 lbs of cargo non-stop from the UK to the Gulf
From: Rip Kirby, Somewhere Sandy
Date: 26 Mar 2003 13:34
Subject: Arabian Nights - Gulf Update
Well, greetings again one and all from an Infidel in the land of camels, sand and oil. A somewhat sombre update this time, for obvious reasons, but not too downbeat I hope.
As you are no doubt well aware, fighting in the Gulf commenced nearly a week ago at the time of writing. The Coalitions’ (or was it just the USA) final 48hr ultimatum to Saddam was a bit of a surprise as most of us still thought the politicians would pull a negotiated settlement out of the bag, and that maybe the UN inspectors would be given more time. That said, in some ways, the start of hostilities was somewhat relieving (perhaps the wrong phrase) in that at least something was happening. Some of the guys and gals had been in country for quite some time awaiting developments. So, things got real serious real fast. I won’t dwell on the military campaign up north too much - there’s enough of that on the telly. Suffice to say it is quite a different crusade from Gulf War 1 twelve years ago, with different objectives and obstacles to overcome.
I would suggest that the outcome is not in doubt, what is concentrating our minds now is the aftermath. A lot depends on what happens next and what the UK’s role in post war Iraq is going to be. Not being privy to Messrs Bush and Blair's plans, we do not know yet if we will be sticking around to do (even more) peace keeping and humanitarian activities, or if that will be given over to the UN.
Therefore, no time-scale yet for getting home. As things progress, my colleagues up north in Kuwait will probably move forward into Iraq and some of here may head up to take their place. After the conflict, as I said, much depends on Britain's role. Even if we hand over to the UN fairly quickly there is a huge amount of men and material to organise getting home. That said, what generally happens in respect of us mobile movers and porters from Lyneham is that once we have done our duty hero bit, other guys from elsewhere in the trade are gradually sent out to take over from us. So fingers crossed on that score. Take note Mr Blair, I have a sweetheart to re-acquaint myself with, end of RAF career re-training to do, and a ski-bum goatee beard to cultivate.
Now, what has been happening here in Fujairah since my first newsletter some three weeks ago. Well, we got real hectic real fast. Went from accepting one medium sized freighter from UK, and launching 3 or 4 of our smallish sized planes up north per day - to getting one medium and 2 really really big freighters in from UK and sending up to 8 missions out each day….all in the space of 10 days. Plus several odds and sods ad hoc flights in and out from time to time. In addition - lots of stuff seemed to be in the wrong places and we also spent considerable time and effort getting it to where it should be. I swear that the airport is now 2 inches lower due to the weight of all the cargo we had backlogged here at one point. But, as always, we clever movers and porters had a cunning plan. Managed to shift a fair proportion of stuff by ship in one job lot (was actually quicker than trying to move it piecemeal over a period of time). Also enticed more crews and planes to migrate out here and assist in the airlift.
As we were still running with the original manpower level we had at the beginning, we were a tad busy as you can imagine. Even the flight operations guys forgot their squabble about the format of the departures board. The jungle drums beat out requests for extra help and eventually reinforcements arrived to assist. And not a moment too soon. The troops were surviving on coffee, adrenaline, takeaway KFC and little sleep. Things appear to have calmed down a little now. The big air-lifters went away for a while, the freight mountain has all but disappeared and we actually cancelled a planned flight last night due to lack of cargo for that particular destination. Nobody is sure if this will continue or if it’s just the eye of the storm soon to return. But we are taking advantage of the break and recharging batteries while we can. And to top it all - I had a much needed day off today: first one since I got here on 4th Mar. Snoozed much of it - 12 hrs on 12 hrs off does get to you after a while. Spent a good 40 mins on the phone to my beloved - we are having new central heating installed it seems (“they were having a sale”), last time I went away a new kitchen was bought, the time before that it was a conservatory ! (sorry Myrah, just having a laugh - yes we DID discuss it before I left !) and generally mooched about. Pretty refreshed now and ready to get back in the fray tomorrow.
Mind you, for all our woes here we are uncomfortably aware that our colleagues up north are having a much rougher time of it. Though probably as busy (if not busier) as they are at work our domestic situation is infinitely easier. I guess you could argue that those are the breaks and it could easily have been the other way ‘round: us up there and them down here. And we may yet go forward to do our bit too.
Well, reckon I’ve bored you enough for this time. As always, thanks for listening to the ramblings of this demented military genius. Hope you and yours are all hale and hearty.
'til next time - Slainte Mhate !