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US Squadron Makes Milk Run to Al Udeid Amid Qatar Dispute

Senior Airman Steven Engels, 379th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, marshals a C-130 Hercules on the flight line June 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño)
Senior Airman Steven Engels, 379th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, marshals a C-130 Hercules on the flight line June 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño)

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- A U.S. Air Force squadron made a milk run -- literally -- to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar amid the regional dispute over the country's alleged ties to terrorism.

This month, nine countries in the Middle East cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar because of the issue. The move impacted the delivery of milk to the base, which is home to some 10,000 American military personnel and conducts missions critical to Operation Inherent Resolve, the Pentagon's effort to stamp out the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The 380th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron, which oversees dining facilities and services supplying food for crews and personnel, responded to the shortage by delivering about a month's supply of ultra-high temperature processing milk to the installation.

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UHT, an "ultra pasteurized" form of milk, has a shelf life of a few months if unopened. Milk is a key ingredient in many dishes and, given the number of U.S. personnel in Qatar, establishing a new supply line was a priority.

Over the past two weeks, members of the squadron delivered 13 large containers filled with milk packs "in anything that had capacity to airlift it over," Lt. Col. Kim Jennings, commander of the 380th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron, told Military.com, without disclosing particular aircraft.

Luckily, the 380th already had supply chains through the Defense Logistics Agency to receive the product from the U.S., Jennings said. The process of setting up new routes to other bases could take months, officials said.

Jennings said milk is the only thing Al Udeid has requested from the 380th since some of Qatar's food supply routes were idled by the crisis.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.