Home for the holidays: 192nd Airmen return from deployment with active-duty counterparts

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  • By Tech. Sgt. Lucretia Cunningham
  • 192nd Wing

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. — Airmen from the Virginia Air National Guard were home just in time for the holidays after a rapid deployment to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility (AOR). More than 35 members assigned to the 192nd Maintenance Group returned to Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia on Dec. 19, 2020, after the joint mobilization with the 1st Fighter Wing’s 94th Fighter Squadron. 

Guard members volunteered, received orders, and were ready to go in time for the short-notice deployment. With added COVID-19 guidelines and precautions in place, the spin-up to the tasking was unique in its own right. 

“This was a great opportunity to demonstrate the readiness of the first team,” said Col. David Lopez, 1st FW commander. “But, we can’t do it alone. Getting these jets out the door, on short notice, takes teamwork. Having great mission partners at the 192nd Wing and 633d Air Base Wing ensures we’re ready to deploy anywhere in the world, at a moment’s notice -- even when staring down a pandemic.”

The unit dispersed U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors manned with small maintenance support teams to various locations throughout the Pacific where they practiced Agile Combat Employment, or ACE. They also had the chance to execute hot-pit refueling from a C-130J Super Hercules and integrated with the Republic of Korea Air Force, while participating in their annual large force training exercise.

Short-notice deployments such as this one are reliant on the VaANG’s support at home station to backfill active duty forces, and to ready aircraft and people for mobilization. In addition, Master Sgt. Ryan Rogers, 192nd AMXS production superintendent, was tasked with leading a contingent team who deployed in advance to receive, repair and relaunch F-22s once they arrived in the AOR. 

VaANG Airmen train and fight side-by-side with active duty Airmen as part of the total force integration between the 1st FW and 192nd Wing, contributing to the Combat Air Forces’ warfighting capabilities. The partnership was established in 2005 and allows for the Air National Guard to be at the forefront of the latest design of fighter craft. The VaANG shares in the support of mission requirements for the F-22 Raptor, but does not own any of the aircraft on station at JBLE. 

The 1st Fighter Wing operated using dynamic force employment (DFE) to mobilize a large scale of personnel on a short notice. This new Department of Defense strategy for deploying forces is designed to improve adaptability and preparedness while keeping U.S. adversaries on their toes.

“Knowing we could be tasked at a moment’s notice to deploy anywhere in the world for an unknown duration stretched our high-end training plans, our Low Observable fleet maintenance schedules, and preparation of equipment stockpiles,” Lt. Col. Scott Crowell, 94th FS commander said. “We’ll finish this deployment with substantially increased readiness as our Airmen have learned to take initiative and make smart risk-based decisions in autonomous and distributed ACE operations throughout the Pacific AOR.”

According to Crowell, the deployment was a great success for the 94th FS as they were able to achieve 100 percent of higher headquarters directed mission tasks — meeting all of the combatant command’s objectives on time.

Senior Airman Marcus M. Bullock, 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs, contributed to this story