319th Reconnaissance Wing [319th RW]
The Air Mobility Command and Air Combat Command commanders agreed to the realignment of the 319th Air Base Wing, Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota to ACC effective June 13, 2017. Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson announced the re-designation of the 319th Air Base Wing at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota, as the 319th Reconnaissance Wing, 11 May 2019. The re-designation, initiated by Gen. Mike Holmes, Air Combat Command commander, aligns Grand Forks AFB's host wing and the 69th Reconnaissance Group. The 69th RG, which flies the high-altitude, remotely-piloted RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft, had been aligned under the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale AFB, California, since it initiated operations as a tenant at Grand Forks AFB in 2011.
Although there won't be any changes to aircraft or operations at Beale AFB, changes at Grand Forks AFB were expected to begin wihin months. Wilson stated, "You know some people talk about these as being autonomous, or talk about them as drones, but they are not. It is our Airmen, always on watch with their ingenuity, pushing the limits for our joint warfighters around the world."
When the 69th RG mission and personnel align under the 319th RW, the unit would be activated as the 319th Operations Group and the 69th Reconnaissance Group would inactivate. The 319th OG would continue to execute the Global Hawk's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission in support of worldwide, full-spectrum operations. The official re-designation ceremony was scheduled for June 28, in conjunction with the Grand Forks AFB change of command between Col. Benjamin Spencer and Col. Cameron Pringle.
319th Air Base Wing [319th ABW]
The 319th Air Base Wing, headquartered at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota, was responsible for the infrastructure and operational support to the 69th Reconnaissance Groupís RQ-4 Global Hawk mission. The 2,000 Total Force Airmen assigned to the 319th ABW provides rapid combat support through mission support functions, mobility preparedness, and continuous security to Grand Forks, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and Cavalier Air Force Station located in Cavalier, North Dakota. The 319th Air Base Wing was organized into two distinct groups: the Mission Support Group and Medical Group. In addition, the Director of Staff exercises day-to-day authority over several staff agencies that provide direct support to the wing commander. The Wing's vision was to generate world-class support for the Global Hawk High-Altitude ISR mission and seamlessly operate and sustain the High Frequency Global Communication System. The Wing's mission was to provide a decisional advantage to our warfighters and national leaders through support of our Nation's Global Hawk High-Altitude ISR mission, ensure strategic command and control through operation of the Nation's High Frequency Global Communication System, afford Combatant Commanders mission-ready Airmen anytime, anywhere, and provide Airmen and families of the Grand Forks AFB team, to include geographically-separated units, with responsive, tailored, and mission-focused support. Communication professionals with the 319th Communication Squadron maintain one of two high-frequency global communications systems in the Air Force, offering 24/7 global continuity for command and control in support of the Department of Defense, Executive Branch of the U.S. Government and Department of Homeland Security. Additionally, the wingís innovative enhanced-use leasing initiatives provide access to unmanned aerial partnerships with community and industry professionals. The 319th Mission Support Group was the wingís largest and most diverse group, comprised of more than 1,300 Airmen and civilian personnel. The 319 MSG encompasses seven squadrons that provide logistics, civil engineer, contracting, communications, security, airfield operations, and force support functions as well as facilities and equipment valued at $2.2 billion. Through identifying and prioritizing the groupís mission requirements a $48 million budget was executed. The group also provides facilities and equipment support to mission partners that include the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, and Detachment 1, 69th Reconnaissance Wing.
319th Air Refueling Wing [319th ARW]
The mission of the 319th Air Refueling Wing was to guarantee extensive "Global Engagement" capability through worldwide mobility operations, including air refueling and airlift requirements executed by 48 KC-135R aircraft and 3,400 personnel.
The wing supports global contingency and conventional operations and the Single Integrated operational Plan (SIOP). It also provides support functions for an Air Mobility Command (AMC) major weapons system and supports a wide range of conventional and nuclear plans.
The wing also provides infrastructure support for an Air Force Space Command group equipped with Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The 319th Air Refueling Wing won the 2002 Solano Trophy on April 26, 2002 for the best active-duty unit within Headquarters 15th Air Force.
Grand Forks sent the first tanker aircraft to Operation Enduring Freedom and was on continuous alert since September 11. Despite having the fewest aircraft of all supertanker wings, Grand Forks flew more sorties and hours than any other tanker wing this past year.
Grand Forks airmen off-loaded more than 106 million pounds of fuel to 7,713 aircraft. The year began with the 319th supporting Operations Southern Watch, Northern Watch and Norther Guardian. In August, the wing kicked off an Operational Readiness Exercise prepping for the worldwide U.S. Strategic Command Exercise Global Guardian. At the same time, the 319th provided a four-aircraft deployment for Operation Northern Denial.
After September 11, the wing was the first to fly an Air Mobility Command sortie supporting the Air Force's response to the terrorist attacks by refueling the F-16 that delivered the Federal Emergency Management Agency director to New York only three and a half hours after the attacks. All of the 319th Air Refueling Wing's mission-capable aircraft were prepped, fueled and cocked within 24 hours.
By the end of 2001, the wing had flown more than 120 Operation Noble Eagle sorties, off-loading more than 4.8 million pounds of fuel to 260 combat air patrol and support aircraft. KC-135 tankers from the 319th were the first on the ground, first in the air, first to fly over enemy territory, and first to provide aerial refuelings while a base of operations in the Persian Gulf was being established for Operation Enduring Freedon. In total, they had flown more than 890 sorties, flying 6,700 hours and off-loading more than 50 million pounds of fueld to more than 3,000 receivers.
The wing also earned an "excellent" and "solid green" for the deployed 319th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron during the first-ever Expeditionary Operational Readiness Inspection while conducting operations at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Additionally, for the second year in a row, the 319th Aircraft Generation Squadron earned top Air Mobility Comman aircraft maintenance effectiveness honors for the medium category.
The 319th Air Refueling Wing reached a significant milestone 03 July 2002 by flying its 1,000th hour in support of Operation Noble Eagle. The milestone-marking mission started the evening of July 2 and was commanded by Capt. Kulka of the 905th Air Refueling Squadron. The crew's mission was to provide fuel to F-16's from Shaw Air Force Base, SC, while they patrolled the skies over the nation's capitol.
319th Air Expeditionary Group
The 319th Air Expeditionary Group deployed to a makeshift tent city somewhere in the arid desert of Southwest Asia. From the start of air operations over Afghanistan Oct. 7, by 2 November 2001 the 319th Air Expeditionary Group [319th AEG] had flown over 150 sorties and more than 1050 hours; pumping over 1.4 million gallons of gas into more than 450 planes.
Keeping jets aloft and providing fuel to the fight - it's the main reason the 319th Air Expeditionary Group Aircraft Generation Squadron was deployed to ensures the jets keep flying and are fully-prepared to support the air campaign against terrorism. Consisting of crew chiefs, aircraft specialists, maintenance specialists and various support agencies, the AGS was comprised exclusively of personnel from Grand Forks AFB.
Refueling by the Grand Forks (N.D.) Air Force Base's 319th Air Refueling Wing was the mission of Base X in Oman, the secret outpost of the US Air Force in a country that wants its cooperation kept quiet. The mission, going on since early in the Afghan war, has become workaday. Base X serves as the forward operating location for US air refueling aircraft in the Middle East. US bombers, crucial during Operation Anaconda in March, are just some of the planes that receive mid-air refueling from KC-135 tankers stationed there.
For the first time since the Gulf War, the 157th Air Refueling Wing, Pease ANGB, New Hampshire began a New Year with more than 250 of its members mobilized and more than 150 personnel deployed. The deployers, most of whom missed the Christmas holidays at home, were scattered in various locations overseas and in the United States. The largest group was overseas at "Base X," where more than 60 personnel were supporting two jets as the 157th served as lead unit for an Air National Guard refueling task force. Unit commander Col. Richard P. Martell was leading this task force that included units from the 155th ARW, Lincoln, Neb. and the 128th ARW, Milwaukee. The three units had experienced moderate taskings at first, but all that seemed to be changing. That pace changed at the end of March 2002 when the 157th's lead role at Base X ends. Even so, the unit continued to maintain a 30 to 35-member package at Base X for as long as operations there continue.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Grand Forks Air Force Base (AFB), ND. It would distribute the 319th Air Refueling Wing's KC-135R aircraft to the 126th Air Refueling Wing (ANG), Scott AFB, IL (12 aircraft), which would retire its eight KC-135E aircraft; the 916th Air Refueling Wing (AFR), Seymour-Johnson AFB, NC (eight aircraft), which would host an active duty associate unit; the 6th Air Mobility Wing, MacDill AFB, FL (four aircraft), which would host a Reserve association with 927th Air Refueling Wing (AFR) manpower realigned from Selfridge ANGB, MI; the 154th Wing (ANG), Hickam AFB, HI (four aircraft), which would host an active duty associate unit; and the 22d Air Refueling Wing, McConnell AFB, KS (eight aircraft), which associated with the 931st Air Refueling Group (AFR).
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