Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Total force provides seamless airlift support

by Master Sgt. Scott Wagers, Air Force News Agency

Airmen load 25,000 pounds of cargo onto a C-130 Hercules Jan. 9 at Aviano Air Base, Italy. A six-member Air National Guard-based crew from the 143rd Airlift Wing at Quonset State Airport near Providence, Rhode Island, delivered the cargo to Zaragoza Air Base, Spain, in support of a month-long training exercise for a dozen F-16 Fighting Falcons. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Scott Wagers)

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany (AFPN) -- Nearly 60 Air National Guardsmen finished a 10-week tour of duty Jan. 11 with the 38th Airlift Squadron here where they'd collectively hauled more than 283 tons of cargo throughout Europe in 109 sorties on C-130 Hercules aircraft.

Their mission was a testament of how seamlessly Guard, Reserve and active-duty members have learned to work together as a total force to get the mission done.

"Active, Guard and Reserve Airmen in this day and age can't do anything without each other and have no other choice but to work together. At Ramstein (Air Base), you have the perfect example of that total force," said Col. Larry Gallogly, a Rhode Island Air National Guardsman and the acting 38th Airlift Squadron commander during the final two weeks of that rotation.

With the support provided by the 38th Airlift Squadron's Guard and Reserve members, Ramstein Air Base active-duty 37th Airlift Squadron members don't have to shoulder the U.S. Air Forces in Europe's airlift mission all by themselves, the colonel said.

"Covering missions throughout Europe and to the desert while performing local training missions is a tremendous burden on (the active duty), so the Guard and Reserve can come over here and relieve some of that burden," he said.

"The real benefit; however, is all of us working together, getting to know each other building relationships and building up that level of trust because we're going to run into each other all around the world and it should be a very seamless operation."
Colonel Gallogly said. He serves as the commander of the 143rd Airlift Wing at his home station of Quanset State Airport in Rhode Island.

"I'm here as a squadron commander working for the 86th (Airlift) Wing right now and some day down the road they could be deployed working for my wing somewhere," he said.

The roughly 60-members Air National Guard from California, Maryland and Rhode Island are not strangers to one another. Representing three of the only four guard units in possession of the new J-model C-130, the members continually cross paths and support each other wherever the newer, more powerful plane is asked to go.

One of the last missions of the team's tour in Germany required the transfer of 25,000 pounds of cargo from Aviano Air Base, Italy, to Zaragoza Air Base, Spain. The payload will help sustain more than a dozen fighter aircraft and their support members conducting training over the next month.

Capt. Kevin McDonnell, whose father was active Guard Reserve for 32 years, said he remembers growing up around a flightline and enlisting at 18.

"I knew exactly what I was getting into," the C-130 co-pilot said.

After enlisting for six years, he got his commission and has been flying for the last 10 years -- first as a navigator and now a pilot. The captain said the Guard's role in the total force concept has evolved in recent years.

"Since (Sept. 11, 2001), the Guard has done more flying missions than they ever have," the captain said. "If you travel around to different theaters and look around you really can't tell a difference between who's Guard and who's active duty."

After landing and parking an empty J-model on the Ramstein AB tarmac, the Rhode Island crew was met with new faces and uniforms bearing the Kentucky and Idaho state colors. It was time to pass the baton as the total force continues to move the vital cargo for American warfighters throughout the world.