FOB Trapani helps NATO employ AWACS over Romania
With the runway at its main operating base undergoing renovations, the E-3A Component has dispersed aircraft to its forward operating bases and location.
"Over the last few months, the Component has done something which has never been done in our 32 years of history - simultaneously operate from all four of our forward operating bases and location for an extended period of time," said Maj. Gen. Andrew M. Mueller, the Component commander. "Without question, the current operations scheme is clearly a first for the E-3A Component. However, our ability to sustain mission success while dispersed to our FOBs/L comes as no surprise to me – as we are doing something the E-3A Component was built to do – disperse and generate effective E-3A missions for NATO Commanders."
While Forward Operating Base Trapani, Italy, was primarily being used for training purposes, it recently started supporting flights over Romania as part of the Alliance's effort to monitor the crisis in Ukraine and demonstrate solidarity with Romania and Poland.
Maj. Kris "Lucky" Luyckx, a tactical director, departs a NATO AWACS Aug. 2, 2014, at Forward Operating Base Trapani, Italy, after completing a mission as part of the Alliance's effort to monitor the crisis in Ukraine.Since mid-July, the Component has generated eight sorties and more than 60 flying hours from FOB Trapani. Approximately, 10 more flights will take place before Aug. 12. Lt. Col. Massimo Simotti, the FOB commander, explained that this has been the busiest time at Trapani since 2011.
"We are operating close to the same rhythm we were operating at during Operation Unified Protector," he said. "We've had more than 200 personnel from the MOB come in and out of the FOB during this period."
The FOB has 20 permanently assigned personnel, who work to provide operational, technical and logistical support to the AWACS fleet and the deploying E-3A crews. "My team here is really good," Colonel Simotti boasted. "We've had no issues. The FOB personnel have been working hard and putting in extra time to make sure the crews have the support they need to make the mission happen. The FOB has really stepped up; however, we couldn't have done it without the support of the Component commander and his staff as well as the rest of the MOB."
The commander also added that his team has been successful because of their "outstanding" personal commitment and "fantastic" team work. The extra effort hasn't gone unnoticed.
A NATO AWACS takes-off Aug. 4, 2014, at Forward Operating Base Trapani, Italy, to fly a mission as part of the Alliance's effort to monitor the crisis in Ukraine."The FOB personnel have really done their best to accommodate us," said Maj. Kris "Lucky" Luyckx, a tactical director deployed to the FOB. "They've put a lot of energy into providing us the services we need operationally and in our free-time."
In addition, the major explained that deploying to the FOB has added benefits. "We spend more time together when we are here and that is good for our team building," he said. "It brings us closer together and that is beneficial to the mission."
The support from the FOB was something the Component has envisioned since the original concept of its operations. While FOB Trapani utilizes resources from the Component, it is largely self-sustaining. "The FOB is always ready for us," Major Luyckx said. "This is what they were designed for. Everything is always set for us when we arrive."
Located in Sicily, FOB Trapani offers a very relaxing environment that's only a short drive from its gates. "It's always mission first," Major Luyckx explained. "But doing your job, where others go to vacation is nice."