Pathfinders orchestrate UK’s largest munitions re-supply since WWII

  • Published
  • By Maj. Jose Quintanilla and Tech Sgt. Aaron Thomasson
  • 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs

Members of United States Air Forces in Europe-United Kingdom, the U.S. Army’s Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command, the U.S. Air Force’s 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron transportation management offices, and 501st Combat Support Wing Airmen and transportation contractors came together in support of AS-17 Ammunition Resupply Operation, February 7 to 14, to orchestrate the largest munitions related supply movement within the UK since World War II, according to SDDC and port officials.


Logistics and Munitions Airmen and personnel synchronized their efforts by receiving and processing more than 200 munitions related containers, almost doubling the amount of containers moved during the last operation in May 2019. The majority of those containers were transported to the 420th Munitions Squadron at RAF Welford, which provides rapid war reserve materiel munitions movement capability and performs routine munitions stockpile maintenance at USAFE’s second-largest munitions storage facility.


“These operations go a long way towards bolstering stockpiles throughout the Air Force,” said Maj. Kenneth French, 420th Munitions Squadron commander. “Additionally, these munitions allow our wings the ability to support operational requirements in the theater as well as enable Air Force Global Strike Command Bomber Task Force deployments and exercises with our partner nations.”


The joint team responsible for the resupply operation had the added challenge of safely overcoming high winds and adverse weather caused by Storm Ciara, which swept across the UK the same week.


“Storm Ciara brought an added level of complexity to port operations due to the severe winds and gusts of up to 80 mph along coastal regions,” said Maj. Jose Quintanilla, 501st CSW logistics readiness officer. “Nevertheless, our personnel executed the mission with utmost care for safety and remained flexible throughout the operation.”


As the second largest munitions storage facility in USAFE’s 19 million-square mile area of responsibility, RAF Welford is trusted by nearly 30 NATO Alliance member nations to deliver components on time to forward operating locations and maintain a ready stockpile. Large munition resupply operations like this ensure the team is ready to deliver munitions to support multiple theaters, objectives, and missions as required.


“Being a part of these operations is always exciting for our personnel to experience since they fall outside our daily core tasks,” said Quintanilla. “Such missions provide us the opportunity to exercise uncommon resupply operations at a grand scale and integrate our efforts with mission partners across the UK. I’m impressed with the professionalism of our team in making this happen despite less than optimal weather conditions.”