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McGuire AFB response element lends a hand in flood efforts

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A five-man advance team from the 818th Contingency Response Group, McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., arrived at Grand Forks AFB, N.D. to assist in the flood efforts.

"We're here to look at what capabilities Grand Forks AFB has, what it can handle and to assist in executing airlift operations," said Col. Steven Sorensen, 818th Contingency Response Group commander. "We've tailored the team based on those capabilities."

No matter what obstacles Mother Nature throws at the already weather-beaten region, the CRE team is prepared to send more personnel to Grand Forks AFB.

"A standard CRE has about 40 to 50 people, just to conduct ramp operations," Colonel Sorenson said. "We'll be able to cover the command and control of the ramp, marshalling aircraft, loading and unloading cargo as well as minor maintenance."

Currently, the 818 CRE team worked with the 319th Air Refueling Wing airfield operations office in creating a parking plan for several helicopters and other potential aircraft. They are also part of a team assessing a potential landing zone for helicopters in Manville, N.D. In this case, the five-man team was able to provide all the assistance required by the 319th.

The CRE team is yet another display of the joint effort put forth by the military in battling the swollen Red River.

Colonel Sorensen said the communication between the commanders of the 319 ARW and the 621st Contingency Response Wing was the biggest success in getting the team to Grand Forks AFB.

"The wing commander discussed the situation and the capabilities then made a recommendation to Air Mobility Command," he said. "This allowed the right people with the right expertise to be tasked instead of the entire CRE."

"Having our TEAMMATES from McGuire here shows that we, as an Air Force, are 'all in' to help others in a time of need," said Col. John Michel, 319 ARW commander.

With the team returning to McGuire AFB on Wednesday, the 818 CRG is on alert and ready to respond within 12 hours if the need arises, whether it be the entire CRG, a five-man advance team, or any mission tailored combination in between.