731 AMS Bolsters Team Osan
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Operational Readiness Exercise Beverly Midnight 14-4 is designed to test Osan Air Base's joint operability. One of those ways is by including a team effort from units outside of the 51st Fighter Wing. For the 731st Air Mobility Squadron, realistic and robust readiness means being prepared to open their doors to thousands of people.
Considered the most forward deployed aerial port in the world, the 731st AMS, operating out of the Passenger Terminal on base, is responsible for the safe passage of thousands of passengers into and out of the Republic of Korea every year as well as standing postured to accept follow-on forces, a point of emphasis they test during OREs.
"We're here to provide the pathway to the peninsula," said Lt. Col. Alan Berck, 731st AMS commander. "As the only Air Mobility Command unit here on the peninsula, we play a critical role in supporting USFK and its components, defending the Republic of Korea."
The 731st AMS places an emphasis on reception of follow-on forces, said Berck. While the PAX terminal has regulated hours of service, this changes to 24-7 service during a contingency.
"As an integral member of Team Osan, we participate 100 percent in this and every exercise and we stand side by side with the 51st fighter wing and our partners to ensure we meet our strategic priorities together, as a team," said Berck.
With the territory of processing people, and now family pets (cats and dogs only) the 731st AMS has the additional duty of screening baggage, a vital part of their job.
"When we process the Patriot Express on Tuesdays and Thursdays we serve about 200 passengers," said Senior Airman Thomas Mclure, a 731st AMS passenger assistant service supervisor. "We have to screen about 400-500 bags on those days."
The 731st AMS baggage screening criteria is as staunch as the Transportation Security Administration's at civil airports, said Mclure. Each piece of baggage is put through an X-ray machine to check for contraband. There are strict rules on what can and can't be shipped via airfare.
"Baggage screening is one of the most important things we do," said Mclure. "It protects national security."
And while the PAX terminal is open Monday - Wednesday 7 a.m. - 6 p.m., Tuesday 5:30 a.m. - 6 p.m., Thursday 7 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Friday 7 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. and closed to commercial and Space-A passengers on the weekends, the 731st AMS team also works earlier or later to accommodate flights outsides of the traditional hours, as well as weekends for mission necessity.
As people arrive and depart Osan AB in droves, the 731st AMS stands by ensuring their safe arrival and departure; however, they also sharpen their readiness during exercises like Beverly Midnight 14-4, staying ready to receive follow-on forces and preserve stability on the Republic of Korea.
"Every exercise is an opportunity to improve our mission, our processes and our Airmen," said Berck. "The only way we'll be ready to fight tonight, and win that fight is through realistic and robust readiness."