Where exigence meets urgency, the LRS ground transportation team is on point

  • Published
  • By Mr. Mitch Topal
  • 166th Logistical Readiness Squadron

Whether it’s equipment, personnel, or hazardous materials, the Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) provides the logistics and vehicles to deliver anytime, anywhere. From huge C-130H2 aircraft tires to the smallest essential aircraft parts, the 166th LRS ground transportation team plays a vital role in our primary mission: keeping our tactical airlift capability at peak performance.

The two full-time and three guard status Airmen are trained on the use of an assortment of vehicles that include buses, wreckers, low-boys, and pickups. A typical active-duty base employs between 15 – 20 Airmen, so these dedicated men wear many hats.

“We deliver assets to different ‘shops’ all over the base. And we train on different vehicles as well. Anything with tires and a [steering] wheel we pretty much touch,” said Master Sgt. Nephtali Ortiz, Ground Transportation Superintendent.

Senior Airman Eric Steinbeiser, the Ground Transportation Specialist who will be transitioning into the superintendent slot in the near future adds, “We also track basic inspections of vehicles, license validation, validation of training, and distribution of parts. We work pretty closely with the vehicle maintenance shop.”

“The good thing is it gives us an opportunity to meet everyone and talk to everyone. If it weren’t for –those deliveries, I wouldn’t have met him [SrA Steinbeiser]. I started asking around for anyone interested in filling the much-needed slot. Then from out of nowhere there he was,” said Ortiz.

The support provided by the transportation team is a critical part of mission success. Essential personnel, cargo and other high priority items like aircraft parts are what keep the wing’s C-130H2s in the air. Unanticipated requests make their job unpredictable. And with unpredictability comes the challenge of satisfying numerous urgent taskings. As two-man shop, they need to be flexible and adaptable. As priorities change, the transportation team needs to adjust their schedules, equipment requirements, and if necessary, reach out to other units in Maryland or New Jersey as well as Dover AFB for specialized equipment or additional personnel. Their sweeps are usually twice a day – one morning and one afternoon. But when the unexpected happens, that could double.

“The beauty of our job is that it’s so random and spur of the moment that we just have to be ready at a minute's notice. It’s never the same thing every day. And now that we’ve picked up the POTUS mission, there’s more interaction with USSS and agencies outside of the base including state and county law enforcement. It runs the gamut,” said Ortiz.

The future on the ground transportation section will bring many upgrades to both personnel, vehicles – even their office layout.

SrA Eric Steinbeiser stated, “Like MSgt Ortiz said, I’ll eventually step into his position. Also, many of our vehicles are of an older inventory, so it would be of great value to acquire some new vehicles such as a forklift, buses and some basic transportation vehicles like sedans that carry out the everyday mission. . .

“I’ve been working in transportation as a technician for about two years to support ground transportation during deployment and manning constraints before going to tech school. It was a lot to take in while learning the job at a tech school level, but a great opportunity regardless to be able to come back and use the knowledge and skills gained so that I can be more effective for my mission. I have come to understand that we cover about eight plus different positions within our shop. It’s great that we’re moving away from motor pool and coming back to the warehouse. I’ll be stepping into a new office that will be more efficient, have more room for our traditionals to come in, and give us an opportunity to set up an actual customer service area,” added Steinbieser.

The operational cadence of any air base waxes and wanes with its mission requirements. For the 166th LRS ground transportation team, being flexible and fast to ensure the mission’s success are all in a day’s work.