20th LRS Airmen ensure Weasel readiness

A U.S. Airman climbs out of a forklift on the flightline of Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 1, 2017.

A U.S. Airman climbs out of a forklift on the flightline of Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 1, 2017. The 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron uses a variety of vehicles to load cargo in preparation for deployments. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stephen Lacey, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) air transportation specialist, prepares to load cargo at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 1, 2017.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stephen Lacey, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) air transportation specialist, prepares to load cargo at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 1, 2017. The 20th LRS air transportation team consisted of approximately six specialists and 50 augmentees who worked together to send out cargo for a recent deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 20th Fighter Wing move cargo onto a scale at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 24, 2017.

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 20th Fighter Wing move cargo onto a scale at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 24, 2017. After units prepared their cargo, the air transportation team inspected it for safety and ensured its dimensions were compatible with the loading aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Eric Harvey, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron air transportation augmentee, backs up a shop tug at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 24, 2017.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Eric Harvey, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron air transportation augmentee, backs up a shop tug at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 24, 2017. Harvey used the vehicle to move and organize cargo on the flightline. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

A Boeing 747 prepares to land on the flightline of Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 1, 2017.

A Boeing 747 prepares to land on the flightline of Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 1, 2017. Airmen assigned to the 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron loaded the aircraft with cargo for a recent deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stephen Lacey, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron air transportation specialist, loads cargo onto a Boeing 747 while operating a k-loader at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 1, 2017.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stephen Lacey, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron air transportation specialist, loads cargo onto a Boeing 747 while operating a k-loader at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 1, 2017. Lacey’s transportation team moved approximately 300 short tons of cargo in support of a recent deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

The floor of a Boeing 747 is empty prior to being loaded at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 1, 2017.

The floor of a Boeing 747 is empty prior to being loaded at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 1, 2017. The mechanics on the floor allowed cargo to be moved around the aircraft electronically instead of requiring physical labor. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) lower a k-loader bed to reload a vehicle at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 1, 2017.

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) lower a k-loader bed to reload a vehicle at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 1, 2017. Airmen assigned to the 20th LRS air transportation team work 24-hour shifts while sending out deployments to maintain security of cargo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- The sun slowly rises over a quiet segment of flightline at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. Sun shades, used to house F-16CM Fighting Falcons, seem especially lonely without the usual buzz of busy maintainers working hard underneath.

On the same patch of concrete, air transportation specialists work alongside their 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron peers. The absent maintainers are going to need supplies if they intend to accomplish their mission while deployed.

When the 20th Fighter Wing needs to move resources, 20th LRS Airmen come together to set Shaw Weasels up for success.

“If we don’t get cargo or people on time, the planes aren’t going to take off and that’s going to impact what needs to be done downrange,” said 1st Lt. Joseph Grant, 20th LRS installation deployment officer. “For the air tasking order that needs to be completed, it’s imperative to have all elements supporting the pilots getting off the ground.”

Grant’s office coordinates with the deploying units and small air terminals, ensuring both cargo and passengers are prepared and leave and arrive on time. Working with unit deployment managers, Grant ensures individuals are accounted for and medically qualified to deploy.

While a unit is deploying, the IDO employs air transportation specialists to assist in the physical movement of cargo.

Air transportation specialists, also known as “Port Dawgs,” are responsible for managing cargo and passengers safely and quickly. Port Dawgs use specialized loading equipment as well as determine logistics for what type and how much cargo can be loaded onto an allotted mobility aircraft.

Specialists also maintain necessary safety and security precautions while assisting deploying units; however, they do not accomplish their mission alone.

By using teamwork and employing Airmen from across their squadron as augmentees, the small air terminal crew can expand their capabilities.

“Teamwork is one of the biggest factors (for mission success) other than actually having equipment,” said Senior Airman Amanda Fennelly, 20th LRS Port Dawg. “If you don’t trust or you can’t depend on your augmentees or coworkers, then the mission won’t get done.”

Airmen assigned to other shops in the 20th LRS receive cargo deployment function training from the transportation specialists, learning how to build cargo pallets and how to perform inspections to ensure airworthy cargo.

Prior to physically loading the cargo, the air transportation team takes steps to ensure a smooth transition of equipment and stay one step ahead.

“Throughout the year we’ve been offering to go out to units and look at their cargo so we can make sure it’s already built up for the air expeditionary force and they know how to fix it and how to prepare it,” said Fennelly.

Grant said without the cargo the 20th LRS moves, the deployed maintainers will not have what they need to ensure the aircraft get off the ground.

“If there’s any delay here it’s going to affect what happens downrange and that can be extremely imperative for the safety of pilots as well as making sure the planes take off and can execute the mission,” said Grant.

The 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron provides support for both the Air Force and Army during deployments and exercises.

Maintaining rapid Weasel readiness requires the proper Airmen and equipment be employed at a deployed location on schedule. By facilitating the movement of necessary resources, 20th LRS Airmen provide the means by which the 20th Fighter Wing can continue to provide F-16 airpower.