Air Force prepares for major deployment

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Scott Elliott
  • Air Force Print News
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld directed the deployment of additional forces to support operations Enduring Freedom, Desert Spring and possible future contingencies Dec. 24.

The additional active-duty forces in Air and Space Expeditionary Forces 7 and 8 as well as selected forces from AEFs 9 and10 have been tasked to deploy in a message from the secretary.

The Air Force is organized into 10 AEFs for rotational deployment scheduling. A single AEF represents approximately six squadrons of fighter and bomber aircraft; C-130s Hercules and tankers; search and rescue personnel; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance forces; and the expeditionary combat support elements necessary to support and operate expeditionary bases.

Before these deployments, the Air Force had nearly two full AEFs supporting operations Northern Watch, Southern Watch and Enduring Freedom, and operating more than 12 expeditionary operating bases. The additional deploying forces will bring the total capability of Air Force deployed forces to nearly that of three full AEFs. This deployment will provide forces in the region a stronger set of capabilities. Deploying forces will be assigned to the two air and space expeditionary task forces currently operating in the region.

According to Maj. Gen. Tim Peppe, special assistant to the Air Force chief of staff for AEF matters, besides the forces drawn from the AEFs, Air Mobility Command units and other "enabler" forces will play a major role in this deployment and any future operations.

"Given the unique environment we are operating in today, we expect our expeditionary combat support, such as services, combat communications, intelligence, security forces, civil (engineers) and others will be tasked at a level beyond three AEFs of capability," he said.

Airmen and aircraft from the following Air Force bases have been identified for initial deployment:

-- AEF 7 and 8 including B-1B Lancers from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., and HC-130s from Moody AFB, Ga.;

-- AEF 9 and 10 including F-15C Eagles from Langley AFB, Va.; F-16s Fighting Falsons from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany; HC-130s from Moody AFB, Ga., and HH-60 Pave Hawks and Predator unmanned aerial vehicles from Nellis AFB, Nev.

Air and space expeditionary wings and enabler forces include F-15E Strike Eagles from Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.; E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar Systems from Robins AFB, Ga.; and AC-130 Gunships, MC-130 Combat Talons and MH-53 Pave Lows from Hurlburt Field, Fla.

Additional aircraft and people are included in the surge order, but units have not yet been identified. Pentagon officials said they will be notified as soon as possible.