Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gulf, Haiti Keep Scott Air Base Buzzing

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gulf, Haiti Keep Scott Air Base Buzzing

Article excerpt

To the long-haul experts at Scott Air Force Base, the flare-up in the Persian Gulf is Just Another Crisis.

Although those experts wear the uniforms of all four services and the Coast Guard, they all work for the U.S. Transportation Command, based at Scott.

Their job is to move American military people and equipment wherever they're needed - Bosnia, Rwanda, Haiti and now Kuwait.

And ever since the first haul to the Persian Gulf, back in 1990-91, "the pace has been just about the same - up-tempo," says Air Force Maj. Gen. John Handy, the command's chief of operations and logistics.

But in an interview Wednesday, he said his people were holding up well, even with a 24-hour-a-day routine. "That's our job," he said. "That's what we're here for."

So far, he said, the Air Mobility Command - that's the Air Force's leg of the Transportation Command - was handling the extra burden without the need to call up units from the Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard.

But Reserve and Guard units own almost half the Air Force's airlift capacity, "and if something really big happens - a full-blown contingency - we'd want those units," Handy said.

For now, he said, the Air Mobility Command is getting along nicely, thanks to some volunteer pilots from the Reserve and Air Guard.

As of the close of business on Tuesday, the United States had airlifted more than 3,000 people and 850 tons of cargo to the Persian Gulf, with much more on the way.

One big boost, Handy said, was the Army's decision after the Persian Gulf War to leave some equipment stored in Kuwait and aboard ships nearby in the Indian Ocean.

"We haven't had to activate our sealift fleet," Handy said, and the strain on the Air Force's cargo planes is much less than it was in 1990-91.

Much of the strain lands on the wings of the Air Force's C-141 Starlifter, the workhorse of the airlift fleet. …

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