Joint STARS takes off for second deployment

  • Published
  • By Lanorris Askew
  • Warner Robins Air Logistics Center Public Affairs
Two E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft and several dozen airmen here answered the call of duty March 5 as they headed to a forward-operating location to support operations in Southwest Asia.

The aircraft and airmen are assigned to the 116th Air Control Wing here.

According to Lt. Col. John Labuda, from the 116th ACW's public affairs office, this is the unit's second deployment this year.

"The United States is repositioning some of its military forces where they're required to support the president's global war on terrorism and to prepare for future contingencies as directed," he said.

Those headed out say they are proud to serve and ready for action.

Lt. Col. Willie Nunn, 116th Airborne Command and Control Squadron commander, said he is glad to be able to support this tasking and lead his detachment.

"Our (people) train for this every day, and they are ready to do the job," he said. "Once we get there and get situated, whatever they call for us to do we will be able to make things happen."

Airman 1st Class Audrey Hughes, an air operations technician, said she is highly excited about this deployment, which is her very first.

"Honestly, I am excited to be able to fight for my country and work for the president and work on the war on terrorism. It's really something to be excited about," she said.

The youngest on her crew, the California native has been in the Air Force for two years and says her parents could not be more proud that their daughter is going to defend her country.

"They are a little scared, but that's just natural for all parents," she said.

Maj. Gen. David Poythress, Georgia adjutant general, came to wish the deploying unit members well.

"The crews are well trained, morale is high, and they are ready to go," said Poythress.

He said when the unit stood up he did not envision they would go out so soon, but the aircraft and people are ready.

"These are very unique aircraft, the only ones of their kind in the United States inventory, and when they go, things are pretty serious," he said. "We are looking forward to the role they are going to play.

Poythress said if there is a war, clearly the 116th ACW will be deeply involved in it.

The Joint STARS' role is to track moving targets on the ground, and that is "obviously pertinent in any kind of war," he said.

The 116th ACW airmen provide air and land component commanders with a near real-time ground battlefield picture. The 116th ACW is a blended unit, and is also the first "total force" unit in the Air Force, combining Air National Guard and active-duty airmen in one wing.