JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. —
Nestled between the fire station and passenger terminal on Joint Base MDL lies the base operations building.
The base operations building houses several career fields. One of those career fields is the 305th Operations Support Squadron Airfield Operations. The primary mission of airfield operations officers is to manage, standardize, and integrate the different agencies that operate on the airfield.
“Airfield operations officers are really the glue of airfield operations,” said U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Trevor Wolfe, 305 OSS Airfield Operations officer. “We’re composed of multiple sections, from the air traffic control tower, radar approach control, radar, airfield, weather systems maintenance and airfield management. We’re able to bring everyone together and get them what they need.”
Airfield operations trainees undergo two years of training that allows them to gain a basic understanding of different sections and positions within the airfield.
At Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. trainees learn the administrative actions that an airfield operations officer conducts as well as gain knowledge of each facility that they work with. From there, they will go to their assigned duty station to conduct on-the-job training.
“We’re the jack of all trades,” said Wolfe. “In your typical career field, you're going to be the subject matter expert in one specific area - we have our foot in the door on everything that involves the airfield and the operations with it.”
In order to fully understand day-to-day operations, officers conduct training in the ATC tower where they will complete some of the same training and certifications that enlisted Airmen go through.
“It opens the opportunity for us to assess how that training is going if there are areas of improvement, or to understand how the system works from the beginning,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Jose Colon-Franco, 305 OSS Airfield Operations Officer. “We get a more holistic approach to the entirety of the flight’s operations.”
With so many different career fields in the same flight, the trainees learn from a diverse range of people with different perspectives. This allows them to adapt with the work environment and build relations with the Airmen they work with.
“We have great respect for the Airmen that work for us and with us. The training helps build that respect even more,” said Wolfe. “We can see what they're going through on a day-to-day basis. Seeing them in action, highlighting the challenges that they may face, definitely gives us a better understanding.”
While managing the runways is important, managing the people who run them is equally important.
“If we don’t make sure that the elements of the airfield are in harmony and balance, then the airfield will not be in its best working state,” said Colon-Franco. “There’s a lot of communication that has to happen to keep all agencies involved on the airfield in the loop and we’re that central point of contact.”