Total force showing its muscle
By Tech. Sgt. Mona Ferrell, U.S. Air Forces in Europe News Service
/ Published March 19, 2003
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFPN) -- The total force muscle is showing its strength throughout U.S. Air Forces in Europe as Air Force reservists and Air National Guardsmen answer the call of duty alongside their active-duty counterparts.
Although the number varies daily, the Air National Guard has about 1,800 airmen and more than 60 aircraft supporting USAFE. Reservists have close to another 30 planes and nearly 1,000 airmen helping to move troops, equipment and cargo as the buildup continues, said Col. Roger Clements, Air National Guard adviser to the USAFE commander.
The numbers have been increasing due to world events, and "they're changing every day," Clements said.
Because of USAFE's strategic location, the command's bases serve as forward locations and as replenishment points for resources moving toward Southwest Asia, Clements said. "This requires significant airlift and refueling capabilities -- two of the air reserve components' primary assets."
Nearly 75 percent of the Air Force's C-130 Hercules fleet and more than 50 percent of its air refueling assets belong to the Guard and Reserve, Clements said.
"This alone helps to illustrate the point (that) when we start to forward-deploy troops, we have to immediately begin to tap our Guard and Reserve folks," he said.
And this force buildup is tapping the full range of specialties within the reserve forces, said Col. Denny Jobes, reserve program manager for USAFE headquarters.
"We are looking over the full spectrum of Air Force specialties, and from all of our units," she said. "These groups aren't coming from any specific state or base. Everyone's actively engaged.
"It's built on requirements," Jobes said. "There are some exceptions, but by and large, our units are pulled to fill requirements that the active duty force identifies. It may be a whole unit, a piece of one, or it can even be one person."
The requirements are the driving force for the ANG and reserve contingent in USAFE.
Guard and reserve forces work on the air bridge, as airlifters, using the C-5 Galaxy, C-141 Starlifter, and C-130 fleet to carry cargo and people, Clements said, and as air refuelers, providing trans-oceananic and Mediterranean refueling using KC-135 Stratotankers and KC-10 Extenders.
"Our bases in Europe provide a mid-point to many of our forward-operating locations," Clements said. "So our air refuelers handle the refueling to get here and again provide support between the mid-way point and the final destination. Also, fighter aircraft ... and rescue HC-130s and HH-60sare in place, ready if needed."
It is this type of total force teamwork and support that ensures the mission at hand is accomplished.
"Combatant commanders have frequently said, 'We couldn't do the mission without the Guard and reserve,'" Clements said. "The troops in the field are just as aware of that. We have inter-operability, (we) train to the same standards and get evaluated by the same standards, we work as a team -- we are one team."
And the teamwork will continue, Jobes said.
"With the kind of operations tempo and buildup we're maintaining, we have to use all of our assets. When you walk into a room, you can't tell who is active duty, Guard or reserve -- it's total force. Everybody knows the mission, and everyone's dedicated to getting it done." (Courtesy of USAFE News Service)