Build up from scratch.
Jul 30, 2014
At the end of April 2014 a team of about 30 soldiers from Great Britain arrived at Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania, to prepare for the arrivals of the Typhoon fighter jets augmenting the NATO Air Policing Mission over the Baltic States. One of them is Warrant Officer Derek McDonough. With his 32-years of experience in the Royal Air Force he is the Deployed Support Group Commander and the Deployed Operating Base Warrant Officer. His main task is all facets of logistic support to the detachment; besides that he takes care of discipline among the non-commissioned officers.
Upon his arrival at Šiauliai, the Warrant Officer faced a situation where a bare apron had to be changed into a home for complete facilities for a fighter wing. It took 27 trucks, each with a large 40-feet container, two C-130 "Hercules” and C-17 "Globemaster ” transport planes and a number of vehicle runs to the United Kingdom to get the initially needed equipment to Lithuania. "We worked a full ten days to properly establish everything for the arrival of the aircraft to commence their mission on 1 May”, says Warrant Officer McDonough. In only 12 days an engineer squadron built the shelters for the Typhoons. The wing personnel was accommodated in the Air Base Headquarters for a few days until they moved into the Container Village and the Deployed Operation Base (DOB) was complete. "I cannot praise the Host Nations assistance enough; their level of support is absolutely brilliant,” he concludes. "Everything we have asked for has been just perfect”.
However, the biggest challenge is yet to battle. All the material has to be recovered, whilst the detachment is still in charge of the Baltic Air Policing Mission until 1 September – and another two detachments are incoming to take over these responsibilities. "Around 31 August to 1 September we will have four different Nations flying here,” Derek adds. "That’s a huge logistical challenge for us all." Three to four convoys with a maximum of 13 vehicles are needed to transfer everything back to the United Kingdom. "It will take about three full days of driving to get home, "Warrant Officer McDonough explains. "On top of that we have had to organize the diplomatic clearances for a number of countries before we even think about getting the vehicles on the road.” Additionally, he and his team have a lot of other things to manage for the re-deployment. This account only offers a nutshell view of the complex world of logistics.
"One of the key issues that most nations supporting the NATO Air Policing mission face is the pressure to minimize costs,” Wing Commander Simon Hulme, the Commanding Officer for the 135 Expeditionary Air Wing at Šiauliai Air Base says. "A fundamental part of that is reducing the deployed footprint both in terms of manpower and equipment. There a clearly a lot of areas that we have to cover ourselves, but the excellent logistics support we have received from the Host Nation, Lithuania, particularly in areas such as aircraft refueling, passenger and freight handling, and infrastructure has helped me to maximize the efficiency of my detachment.”