Battleland

Missing Inaction

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Senior Master Sgt. George Thompson / U.S. Air Force

Air Force Master Sgt. Ernest Harrison, a logistics expert, stumbled upon a 50-ton tractor that no one knew was missing.

How do you lose a 50-ton U-30 tractor designed to tow huge C-17 cargo planes around airfields?

Better not ask the Air Force.

But feel free to ask Air Force Master Sgt. Ernest Harrison, who stumbled upon the behemoth at an unidentified port in southwest Asia as the U.S. military continues its withdrawal from Afghanistan.

As he explained his find to an Air Force public-affairs officer:

I saw this massive piece of equipment, but had no idea it was an Air Force asset. My predecessor gave me a list of all the assets I needed to track, and this was not one of them. Normally it’s dark when I finish my work, but on this particular day, I finished early and took a couple of pictures of this thing. I wrote down the weight and the tag number and sent it to the Air Forces Central guy in charge of all the vehicles in the region.

Air Force Central Command was pleased to get Harrison’s snapshots: it was on the verge of ordering a new U-30.

No one knows how it fell through a very-wide crack.

“The best part,” Harrison said, “was it started right up.”

Not quite. The best part was that Harrison’s find let the Air Force cancel a $348,571.73 order for a new U-30.

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