Air Mobility Liaison Officers from the 621st Mobility Support Operations Squadron are currently assisting U.S. Army North with air movements of field hospital units into coronavirus disease hot spots around the U.S.
The AMLOs are rapidly responding to emerging air mobility requirements in New York City, Seattle, Dallas and New Orleans in coordination with Air Mobility Command and the 618th Air Operations Center, as part of the whole-of-government U.S. response to combating COVID-19.
In the current COVID-19 response, speed was of the essence as the Department of Defense responded to calls to support and assist state authorities in the fight against the virus. Normally, there is a deliberative, step-by-step review and validation process leading up to a mission. In this case, however, field hospital units were notified of movement orders, and within 24 hours the first advance elements were boarding C-130 Hercules aircraft and heading to COVID-19 hot spots.
AMLOs under the pressure of an accelerated timeline quickly coordinated with multiple agencies, piecing together the puzzle to give leaders a picture of each partners’ capability. In addition to coordinating with their aligned medical units and ARNORTH, AMC, and the 618th AOC, the AMLOs were also working with U.S. Army Forces Command and U.S. Northern Command mobility specialists.
With many diverse units working together on a compressed timeline, communication was key to mission success.
“Everyone needed immediate visibility on the when, where and how forces would move in order to deliver the right capability at the right time,” said Lt. Col. Michael Modesto, 621st MSOS AMLO and primary Mobility Air Forces advisor to ARNORTH.
The 621st MSOS used their global support network of AMLOs and robust communication plan to streamline their support efforts and update decision makers as events unfolded on the ground.
“That really is the essence of our job,” Modesto said. “We serve as the eyes and ears of Air Mobility Command in order to better support our joint partners.”
The AMLOs’ ability to embed with U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps and special operations units to expedite movement of personnel and equipment aboard Air Force assets made them the right fit to assist with this COVID-19 relief effort.
“The fact that we already knew these players made it easy to facilitate the fast flow of information,” said Maj. Keri Morris, 621st MSOS AMLO. “Likewise, because of this relationship, we were able to provide mission information to Army planners almost as soon as it was created.”
The AMLOs’ expertise in mobility airlift planning enable them to bypass system restraints and relay key information to decision makers at the Tanker Airlift Control Center to get medical personnel to hot spots in need.
“This is a very uncertain time with a lot of unknowns on what’s next,” Modesto said. “Every military member volunteered to serve our country and our greatest contribution right now is to help the first responders who are on the front lines of this battle. Seeing a mission arrive on time and medical forces delivered where they are needed is a fulfilling reward right now.”