Swanton, Ohio --
It won’t go without TMO, a motto that the Airmen at the 180th Fighter Wing Traffic Management Office prove to be true every day. TMO at the 180th Fighter Wing is seldom mentioned, but it plays a huge role in making sure the Wing can fulfill the mission.
“Everything that comes to this unit comes through our doors, and if it’s going out from this unit, it’s going out our doors,” said Tech. Sgt. Rodney Degrie, a traffic management specialist. “So, it’s like we’re a central hub.”
Anytime someone on base orders equipment or parts to help them achieve the mission, it gets shipped to the base. Whenever anything is shipped to the base, it goes through TMO.
“Hazards, explosives, weapons, clothing, everything,” said Staff Sgt. Raven Driftmyer, a traffic management specialist.
Once a shipment is received, TMO Airmen get to work unloading and sorting.
“First we separate mission requirement items and low priorities,” Driftmyer said. “If it’s a mission requirement, we need to get it out as quickly as possible to get it to the flight line, if it’s a part for a jet. We open it, we check the stock number and we check the tags to make sure it’s the right item. After we do that, we assign it to the correct location, we fill out the paperwork and then we set it on a shelf for one of the vehicle operators to deliver.”
Along with receiving packages, TMO also sends items out, including equipment needed on deployments, from wrenches and weapons to aircraft and Airmen.
“In addition to all of the cargo moving stuff, we also handle passenger travel: Airline travel, getting people to and from stateside deployments,” said Master Sgt. Lewis Smith, traffic management supervisor at the 180FW. “We even send people to basic training.”
During a deployment, whether it’s a stateside deployment or disaster relief, a lot of cargo and Airmen have to be moved across the world. In 2019 alone, more than 360 thousand pounds of cargo and 350 Airmen were sent around the world, from the 180FW alone. At times, everything needs moved without much notice. The Ohio National Guard can be anywhere in the world within 72 hours. That’s 72 hours for TMO to get all of the Airmen, their equipment and planes to wherever they need to be.
“Years ago, we were directly involved in supporting the 200th RED HORSE Squadron deploying to Haiti for the relief missions down there,” Smith said. “We were notified, and less than 24 hours later, C-17s started landing, and for 72 hours straight, we were processing cargo and personnel, loading planes and releasing them. Processing, loading and releasing.”
Smith also said that after supporting the 200th RED HORSE deployment, he was confident that in any emergency, they could get the job done.
“Our function is, ultimately, to get those jets and those pilots and those maintainers to the fight so they can get their job done,” Smith said. “If it needs moved, people or stuff, we move it.”
“If we’re doing our job perfectly, you’ll never know we were there. But if something goes wrong, we’re the first ones you come to,” Smith said. “That’s satisfying. If we’re not here and things are going sideways, that tells you that our contribution means something, and I like that.”
“The Airmen in the Traffic Management Office continually move items to keep mission readiness afloat,” said Maj. Melanie Grosjean, 180FW Logistics Readiness Squadron commander. “The overall mission of the Air Force would fail if we did not have the Traffic Management Office to keep transportation pipeline activities moving efficiently and effectively for the Warfighter.”
Though most people think of the pilots and maintainers first, the Airmen of TMO prove every day that without them, planes don’t launch, Airmen can’t get to where they’re needed most, and the Air Force can’t execute the mission. Whether it’s response to a disaster, growing tensions overseas or assisting allies, the Air Force can quickly be anywhere around the world, thanks to the Airmen in TMO.