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Asking what an airplane would do without an airfield is like asking what USCENTCOM would do without Airpower. They can get away with it, but realistically it would be an emergency landing that would happen.
The stability of the Southwest Asia theater depends on AFCENT airpower, and the aircraft providing that airpower depend on the airfields of partner nations within the AOR.
The United States, in partnership with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, currently operates United States Air Force aircraft under the command of the 378th Air Expeditionary Wing from Prince Sultan Air Base.
Airman 1st Class Genavieve Rohling, an airfield management specialist assigned to the 378th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron, is part of a small flight of Airmen whose mission is to manage and maintain runways, airways circulation and parking areas of the PSAB alongside their counterparts in the Royal Saudi Air Force.
“The primary focus of our work is to ensure that any aircraft can arrive and depart efficiently and safely,” Rohling said. “All of our work encompasses aircraft safety.”
The 378th EOSS Airfield Management Flight is responsible for checking and inspecting airfield lights, signs, and pavement for any abnormalities. Address obstacles such as wingtip clearances and keep runways free of foreign objects and animals.
“I would say my job has a lot to do with preventive actions,” Rohling said. “If we find a deviation, we try to correct it before it gets worse. An airfield cannot be perfect, but we try to make it as perfect as possible.
Airfield management coordinates with the RSAF to correct any discrepancies found at the airfield, the air traffic control tower for barrier checks, and the transient alert and terminal operations center for passing aircraft arriving and departing from the PSAB. They file flight plans for every USAF sortie out of the PSAB and perform aerodrome driver’s license testing for anyone stationed at the PSAB who requires an aerodrome driver’s license.
“It’s kind of hard to keep track of everything we do,” Rohling said. “But I feel like all of that is important, because all of that combined is for the safety of the airfield, the planes and the airmen who operate on each of those two.”
The flight develops, disseminates and monitors the processing of emergency parking plans for follow-on forces and emergency response plans for airborne and ground emergencies.
“I really appreciated the opportunity to work so close to the mission and with such a diverse group of AFSCs,” Rohling said.
No airfield management means no airfield, no airfield means no aircraft, no aircraft means no air power, and no air power means no deterrence of aggressors to regional stability. PSAB’s airfield management team may be small, but it’s part of an overall mission-critical USCENTCOM agreement.