Fort Stewart’s power projection prowess was showcased June 4 when 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade deployed on a real-world mission in the U.S. from Wright Army Airfield.
It was the first time in more than 40 years that Soldiers and equipment flew out of the airfield. As the operation was underway at Wright, 3rd CAB Soldiers were deploying out of Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, too.
Conducting simultaneous deployment operations at two active airfields is only possible at Fort Stewart, said garrison commander Col. Bryan Logan.
“We are the only IMCOM installation with two fully functional airfields,” Logan said. “We have the primary, Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, and Wright here at Fort Stewart. Being able to move personnel and equipment through both locations proves our preeminence as a power projection platform for the Department of Defense.”
A C-17 from the U.S. Air Force’s 911th Airlift Wing out of Pittsburgh landed at Wright to upload vehicles and other equipment for the 3rd CAB’s deployment. Sgt. 1st Class Joshua McLoed, 3rd CAB load master, said the mission wasn’t new, just the point of departure.
“This is unusual for us,” McLoed said. “We have done this mission for us, but it’s unusual for us to be flying out of Wright.”
A C-5 from the 911th AW was on the tarmac at Hunter to take on additional personnel and equipment at approximately the same time the load-up was happening at Wright. The simultaneous deployment operations validated the installation’s capabilities, Logan said.
“Having the additional option to load Soldiers and equipment at Wright Army Airfield gives us the power to flex and continue to be a viable option to answer the nation’s call if Hunter were to have an issue,” he said. “And with both airfields operational, we are able to push out more combat power more rapidly and effectively. We are power projection here at Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield.”
Historically Wright Army Airfield was and continues to be an aviation training platform, beginning with World War II in the 1940s, to Army Flight School in the late 1960s and 1970s, to present day supporting both Army and joint aviation training.
In recent years, Wright Army Airfield has not been used for real-world deployments but may have been when a Ranger battalion was stationed at Fort Stewart in the late 1970s, said Kevin McKay, operations branch chief, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, and previous airfield manager.