Team Andrews vital to Nuclear Security Summit

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ryan J. Sonnier
  • 11th Wing Public Affairs
Team Andrews' members recently welcomed more than 20 foreign leaders traveling to the U.S., March 29 - 31, 2016.

Joint Base Andrews acted as a travel hub as the leaders transitioned to the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C.

"It is amazing to work an event like this. Nowhere else in the Air Force will you get these opportunities," Lt. Col. Christopher Kuester, JBA project lead, said. "Col. Tiffany Dawson, 11th Wing staff judge advocate, stated that she got to greet the President of Ukraine and wish him good-bye. She said at any other base the JA would not get the opportunity to greet dignitaries and spend time out on the flightline."

He said planning and coordination for this event began in December 2015 with U.S. Secret Service. Along with Secret Service, other major off-base organizations included the Department of State and Customs and Border Patrol. The efforts also included on-base organizations such as Air Force District of Washington, 89th Airlift Wing, 79 Medical Wing, 844th Communications Group and the 11th Wing.

"Andrews' Airmen did amazing things during this process," Kuester said.

Members of the 11th Security Forces Group and Secret Service posed security to ensure the safety of the aircraft and foreign leaders as they departed in a motorcade off the installation. Media members were escorted and staged by 11th Wing Public Affairs to record the arrivals and departures of the dignitaries. For health concerns, the 779th Medical Wing was on standby in the event of a medical emergency. Finally, 89th Airlift Wing members guided aircraft into pre-planned parking locations on the flight line for staging.

Prior to the event, many elements of the operation had to be put in place to ensure ease of communication between the major working groups and visitors. Considerations also had to be made for the various languages spoken by the visitors.

"It was an exciting challenge.  This was the third event of this type the 89th [AW] has managed in the past six years," Mr. John Polhemus, JBA assistant lead, said. "Even though we have our processes in place, managing such a large group with varied and changing requirements is no easy task."

JBA plays a vital role in large-scale events, Kuester added. The base already has an established distinguished visitor mission along with a secure parking area and DV greeting capability. The ability to provide those services is an asset to Secret Service for countries with a higher security risk.

"The ability to offload and get the motorcade organized in a secure location is essential to ensuring success," he said. "It also provides an alternative location for dignitaries to land that is close to the D.C. area."

In the end, it was teamwork that ensured more than 20 distinguished visitors landed safely, traveled to their destination and their aircraft was secure and prepared for departure after the summit.

"It was truly a group effort," Kuester said. "All of the JBA military partners provided assets or personnel to assist with the NSS."