426 ABS supports first-ever Air Force deployment to Norway

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jennifer Zima
  • 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs

The 426th Air Base Squadron supported the first ever U.S. B-1B Lancer deployment to Norway during a Bomber Task Force Europe mission.

The logistics, ground transportation and legal teams provided support to approximately 200 Airmen and four B-1B aircraft assigned to the 7th Bomb Wing from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, during their deployment to Ørland Air Base, Norway.

“The deployment was a pretty big event,” said Lt. Col. Charles Lee Rice, 426th ABS commander. “There were a lot of hurdles we had to overcome for logistic support with unique requirements to Norway.”

Maj. Andrea Hunwick, 426th ABS deputy squadron commander and staff judge advocate, worked with her team to ensure the deployed Airmen were ready to enter Norway. They briefed the incoming team about the COVID-19 quarantine requirements, made sure the air-ground equipment met European safety and traffic standards or received approval for exceptions, and other safety requirements.

“We worked some of the preplanning before the unit arrived in country, and once they were here, I personally provided their legal in brief,” said Hunwick. “I met with the leadership team, and gave them an overview of the NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] SOFA [Status of Forces Agreement] agreement. Also, I made sure they understood that they’re subject to Norwegian laws while they’re here, and our obligations to our host nation.”

Staff Sgt. Walter McDaniel, 426th ABS logistics and ground transportations specialist, and his team, worked to ensure a smooth transition for the deployed Airmen coming from the U.S. to Norway.

“My support specifically was to move aircraft ground equipment from various sites, and to ensure its delivery to Ørland Air Base, was as effective as possible,” said McDaniel. “Here we have many hats that we wear. We are also the only one of two military-run vehicle processing centers in the world.”

The 426th ABS is located at the Jåttå Military Compound in Stavanger, Norway and is comprised of roughly 16 military personnel, nearly half of its capacity, with 17 different AFSCs (Air Force Specialty Codes or specific jobs). The mission of the 426 ABS is to serve as the U.S. National Support Element and provide base support for U.S. Joint Service personnel assigned to the NATO’s Joint Warfare Centre. The squadron also - facilitates movement, including customs and agriculture clearance, of all Department of Defense cargo throughout the Kingdom of Norway, and advise the DOD’s Senior Country Representatives on legal matters including SOFA issues and foreign criminal jurisdiction cases.

The 426th ABS commander appreciated the efforts of his team to execute the mission.

“I’d like to highlight the logistics team,” said Rice. “Sgt. McDaniel is one of my superstars. Without having those certifications and being able to perform those tasks, nothing would have moved. I’m very grateful for that level of expertise.”

As the moving parts of the deployment came together, McDaniel reflected on his experiences.

“It’s very interesting because a lot of traffic management officers never get to see the big picture. What’s exciting about these missions is you really get to see the big picture on how things unfold and how important it is. Especially for traffic management function, to see exactly how our support is critical to the mission and the successes of it as well. Because if one thing goes wrong logistically or in supply, the whole mission can unfold and some big things can happen where the mission couldn’t go on. It’s very meaningful, and you can actually see how important your job is.”

Bomber Task Force missions demonstrate U.S. commitment to the collective defense of NATO and contribute to stability in the European theater. Our ability to quickly respond and assure allies and partners rests upon the fact that we are here, in Europe, forward and ready.