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Travis Air Force Base, Calif.—The mission of Travis Air Force Base, California, isn’t only to provide rapid global mobility to the nation; the base also hosts the U.S. Navy’s Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 3 Detachment (VQ-3) — also known by the unit’s unofficial name, TACAMO (Take Charge and Move Out).
U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Yancy Lindsey, Navy Installations Command commander (CNIC, https://www.cnic.navy.mil/About/), visited TACAMO Oct. 28, 2022, to get eyes on the new $64 million alert facility at Travis AFB. During the visit, Lindsey toured the new facility, met with the Sailors of VQ-3 and answered mission-specific questions for the security personnel at TACAMO.
Headquartered at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., CNIC is responsible for worldwide USN shore installation management as the Navy's shore integrator, designing and developing integrated solutions for the sustainment and development of Navy shore infrastructure.
“It's our pleasure to host Vice Adm. Lindsey and Force Master Chief Dunn,” said Lt. Cmdr. Brian Hanks, VQ-3 Det Travis officer in charge. “The new alert facility has greatly enhanced our ability to provide survivable, reliable and endurable command and control to the President, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command.”
The VQ-3 mission is to link Department of Defense leaders to nuclear submarines in the Pacific. The connection is possible with the Boeing E-6B Mercury, the Navy’s largest aircraft. The E-6B relays messages with a five-mile-long antenna that extends on a cable from the rear of the aircraft, then the pilot maneuvers into an orbit with a 30-to-50-degree bank slowed to a stall speed for as long as two to three hours. Miles below sea-level, messages are received by a nuclear submarine.
“I'm extremely proud of our entire team for conducting the switchover from the old facility flawlessly and ahead of schedule,” Hanks said. “Any opportunity I have to show off their hard work and dedication is well worth it in my book!"
Projecting the joint force isn’t a buzzword on Travis; we work hand-in-hand with the VQ-3 detachment to ensure their mission is a top priority.
"Without the support we receive from 60th Air Mobility Wing, we would be unable to accomplish our mission here at Travis,” Hanks said. “Every single aspect of our operations is affected by our mutual relationship, from parking ramp space and fuel, to medical support for my Sailors, the list goes on and on.”
The 60th Operations Group tower personnel ensure missions happen expeditiously to give the alerts for TACAMO a rapid launch when the Navy personnel get the call, according to U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Alexandra Foley, 60th Operations Support Squadron tower chief controller.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to everyone at the 60th, from Colonel Salmi all the way down, for making us feel at home and helping ensure our no-fail mission remains a success,” Hanks said.
In June, VQ-3 opened a new facility on the main side of the flight line and moved their E-6Bs to a parking area next to the 60th AMW’s KC-10 Extenders on the north side of the flight line, opposed to the south side of the flight line where they were previously parked.