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ATOC works around the clock to keep cargo and personnel moving

SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- Maintaining the inbound and outbound movement of cargo and personnel in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve requires careful coordination between a multitude of entities. In order for the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing to effectively complete its mission and deliver decisive airpower against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, it needs a nerve center to track aerial port operations: an air terminal operations center.

ATOC is the focal point for aerial port mission execution. According to Air Mobility Command Instruction 24-101, it is the central point through which all information relating to airlift traffic flow and aerial port operations is received, processed and dispatched to each functional area as well as to the chain of command.

“The mission for ATOC is to oversee the aerial port and all the functions within the aerial port,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jeremy Burlingame, an ATOC duty officer assigned to the 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron. “The aerial port’s responsibility is moving cargo and passengers and ATOC’s position within the aerial port is to oversee all the day-to-day ops.”

ATOC acts as the middleman between higher command mission planners and the execution of the missions by 386th AEW aerial port personnel. ATOC coordinates all cargo and personnel movements through the 386th AEW aerial port. They are the command and control of all the air terminal work sections involved with the upload and download of aircraft.

The ATOC’s information control function gathers, processes and disseminates all information pertaining to air terminal operations. They ensure each terminal work center is given the necessary information to effectively accomplish their mission and they closely monitor the work centers to ensure established timelines are being met in order to prevent aircraft delays.

Information control works closely with ramp control, another ATOC function. There is always a ramp coordinator on the flightline acting as the eyes and ears for information control. Ramp coordinators monitor all the aerial port ground handling operations and maintain constant communication with information control.

“My primary role as a ramp controller is to monitor and disseminate information from the flightline to all the entities involved in getting the cargo processed and the passengers onto the aircraft,” said Staff Sgt. Dominique Erickson, a 386th ELRS ramp controller. “We work with the sections such as ramp, cargo (and) special handling. Essentially we are the information control liaison, which is in charge of the flightline information and organizing the outbound and inbound processing of cargo and passengers.”

In order to oversee all the around-the-clock functions within the aerial port, personnel assigned to ATOC must have experience in multiple aerial port work centers as well as extensive knowledge of all directives, policies and procedures related to passenger and cargo handling.

“As aerial porters, sometimes we think we are just pushing cargo, but when we really stop and think about what we are doing, we are putting life-saving equipment and bodies in place to do a job,” said Burlingame. “So our job matters significantly. You may not see every element of that but we move a lot of important pieces and people in to do a job. We get to send the parts, the pieces, the equipment and the medicines to the warfighter. We are doing a serious job to bring food and supplies to the people who need it.”