Whiteman civilian supports Operation FREEDOM’S SENTINEL

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Danielle Quilla
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
With her hair tied up in a bun and “DOD CIVILIAN” sown on the left of her multicam uniform, one civilian deployed a year alongside U.S. service members in support of Operation FREEDOM’S SENTINEL.

From August 2015 to August 2016 at Bagram Airfield (BAF), Afghanistan, Melissa E. Lewman was attached to the U.S. Air Force 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, working directly with the U.S. Army Bagram Support Group in their Resolute Support Mission under the United States Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A).

“Initially, I deployed to do real property, which is accessing all of the facilities on the installation,” said Lewman, the 509th Civil Engineer Squadron housing management element chief from Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB), Missouri.

However, Lewman was given the responsibilities of the master planning manager, which involved her in more than 77 high-profile projects.

“When you work in a contingency environment, you never know what is going to come your way,” said Lewman. “You just have to be flexible and use the skills that you have to build on.”

Her background in housing management and real estate helped Lewman to optimize the land use and relocate the resources, such as buildings, from the east side of the installation to the west side.

“One reason we were clearing the east side of the installation was to provide a buffer between the Parwan Prison and the airfield,” said Lewman.
The T-walls, 12-foot-high portable, steel-reinforced concrete blast walls, on the east side of BAF were also moved to help create this buffer, which left a few concrete slab buildings in the Afghan area of responsibility. Lewman facilitated the real property transfer of these buildings to the Afghan National Army.

Although she did not have any prior experience as a master planning manager, Lewman’s technical proficiency and leadership expertise allowed her to plan, direct, coordinate, manage, review, develop and implement policy and guidance in support of the Bagram Support Group’s Resolute Support Mission.

On Sept. 21, 2016, Lewman will receive the Outstanding Civilian Service Award at Whiteman AFB.

Editor’s Note:
On Jan. 1, 2015, USFOR-A formally ended its combat mission, Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, and began its new mission, Operation FREEDOM’S SENTINEL. This operation provides counterterrorism operation against Al Qaeda and its affiliates, and support to NATO’s Resolute Support capacity-building effort.

The Resolute Support Mission focuses on Training, Advising and Assisting the Afghan Security Institutions and Afghan National Security Forces in order to build their capabilities and long-term sustainability.