Tinker plays big role in Gulf War victory

  • Published
  • By Air Force Sustainment Center History Office
When the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center commander said in 1991 he was "proud of the tremendous contribution Tinker personnel and associates have made thus far,"

Maj. Gen. Joseph K. Spiers might have been talking about their day-to-day activities, year-after-year accomplishments or even those tasks during the tenure of his command. But, his reference was to the United States' first official war in 45 years.

"I have absolute confidence in our people here at Tinker who keep those forces ready by supplying the goods and services needed to ensure a winning team," General Spiers said.

Clearly, America's liberation of Kuwait from the August 1990 Iraqi invasion was the biggest event of 1991.

On Jan. 17, when President George H.W. Bush announced to the American public that the war for Kuwait's Liberation had begun, and Desert Shield became Desert Storm, few people could have predicted the complete domination of the battle scene and relative small number of U.S. casualties sustained.  But American air superiority proved so fundamental that when ground action began on Feb. 24, it lasted only four days. Patriotism echoed back to an earlier age when such pride and victory ended World War II.

The Aircraft Directorate managed and maintained Tinker's 28th Air Division fleet of E-3s, the first aircraft deployed in the Desert Shield buildup.  When combat activities began, nearly one-half of all E-3s were in the air as part of the round-the-clock coverage.

B-52s were likewise well represented in the conflict as programmed depot maintenance was surged to get 11 aircraft ready for Desert Storm. Meanwhile, KC-135 civilian employees, augmented with Reservists, worked with the 2953rd Combat Logistics Support Squadron to modify more than 100 aircraft with VHF radios and produced such end items as main landing gear doors, flap assemblies, engine sleeves, and rudders. During the war, KC-135s flew 9,000 sorties and off-loaded 286 million pounds of fuel.  Contracts Logistics Support Division applauded as many of their managed aircraft became involved transporting troops, providing a pipeline for small parts and medical evacuation services.

Months later the Pentagon revealed information that allowed the men and women of Tinker Air Force Base to claim partial responsibility for the first air attack against Saddam Hussein's forces. When seven B-52G bombers from Barksdale AFB, La., successfully fired their 35 Conventional Air-Launched Cruise Missiles against eight high-priority Iraqi targets, Tinker expertise paid off. The ALCMs provided the capability to simultaneously strike a large number of targets from stand-off distances, outside the lethal range of Iraqi defenses.

Development of conventional ALCMs began in June 1986 as teams of Tinker logisticians directed modifications and provided engineering and technical support.  The missiles which became operational in January 1988 were produced by modifying existing AGM-86B nuclear capable cruise missiles to carry a high explosive blast/fragmentation warhead.  The modification also replaced the missile's terrain contour-matching guidance system by integrating a global positioning system capability with the existing inertial navigation computer system. Each B-52 flew a total distance of more than 14,000 miles and were air-refueled four times as they remained airborne for more than 35 hours, making the event the longest single air combat mission in history. Both ALCMs and B-52Gs were weapon systems managed by the OC-ALC.

In truth, every organization could claim a role in the Gulf War victory.

The Directorate of Distribution handled more than 40,000 tons of cargo while working in a seven-days-a-week, 24 hour-a-day operation status. During peak periods, distribution workers were handling 79 truck and 20 aircraft arrivals per day. Tinker's Aerial Port of Embarkation became the second busiest in the United States.

The Commodities Directorate accelerated or surged more than 64,000 items to support America's deployed forces. Commodities and Production shops worked around the clock to repair or overhaul more than 22,000 expedited items.

Propulsion Directorate personnel surged engine items and complete engines for use in the desert war.  They produced 2,970 items, two TF41 engines, five TF30 engines and three F110 engines.

The Directorate of Technology and Industrial Support processed nearly 5,000 MICAP requisitions, repaired E-3 rotodome test sets, performed emergency repair actions for engine and accessory equipment and delivered worldwide data on engine availability.
The Directorate of Contracting processed 1,472 requests for expedited awards and accelerated deliveries. The contractors provided excellent support and many would not charge for overtime, accelerations, diverted shipments and shut down commercial lines to concentrate on military hardware.

The Communications and Computer Systems Directorates Data Services Center provided non-stop computer maintenance support to the Military Airlift command's C-5s and C-141s. The Stock Control and Distribution Systems supported the Aerial Port of Embarkation in their movement of massive amounts of cargo during the entire operation.  And the 1985th Communications-Computer Systems Group supported mobility and deployment processing.

Financial Management's War Contingency and Planning Branch processed 50,000 messages providing a 24-hour wartime integration of information, constantly monitored the Worldwide Military Command and Control System, submitted Situation Reports, and issued Time Phased Force Deployment Documents. The Accounting and Financial Office processed more than 33,000 military pay transactions for deploying personnel.  The office also established pay records for 500 activated Guard and Reserve Airmen and paid out in excess of 2,500 travel advances.

The Human Resources Directorate, 2854th Air Base Group and base legal office processed thousands of people through Tinker to the Gulf region. The Disaster Preparedness Branch instructed 3,800 people in the proper use of chemical warfare gear.

Services Division workers provided billeting for Reserve and Guard augmentees and prepared 20,000 "Meals Ready to Eat" for deploying forces.

The Base Hospital sent several medical personnel and three Air Transportable Clinics to Saudi Arabia.  A 100-member Contingency Hospital Expansion team deployed to England in January; and Medical Logistics, Readiness, and Immunization staff supplied necessary services to the thousands of troops who processed through Tinker AFB.

For weeks and months after the war was won, Tinker troops returned to a heroes' welcome.  The biggest base event was held on March 26, 1991, when Air Force Secretary Donald Rice was on-hand to add his personal thanks and congratulations.
(History of the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, Fiscal Year 1991)

· The 552nd Airborne Warning and Control Wing E-3s began flying in support of Operation Desert Storm on Jan. 17, 1991.

· During Desert Storm, 552nd E-3 crews flew 1,498 sorties for a total of 16,874.6 hours; 7,314.7 of which were combat hours flown. In total, approximately 69,406 sorties were flown by 30 different aircraft.

· The men and women of the 552nd attained an impressive 91.36 percent combined mission capable rate during the operation.

· Members of the 552nd controlled a total of 31,924 strike sorties, which dropped a total of 88,500 tons of munitions without losing a single allied aircraft in air-to-air action.

· E-3s controlled 20,401 aerial refueling sorties that off-loaded a total of 178.4 million gallons of fuel to 60,543 receivers.

· 552nd AWACW crews also assisted in 39 of 41 Allied air-to-air shoot downs during Desert Storm.

· More than 60,830 Total Force Airmen were deployed in support of Desert Shield/Desert Storm forward operations.

· More than 9,300 laser-guided bombs were dropped out of a total 220,000 bombs on enemy targets.

· Military GPS receivers (842) and commercial (4,490) assisted forces at sea, on land and in the air.

· During Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Airmen performed the most rapid airlift in history: nearly 472,800 people and some 465,000 tons of cargo to the Persian Gulf in eight months.

· More than 130,000 passengers and 700,000 short tons of cargo were shipped in the month of January alone.