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Ohio Army National Guard begins nine-month tour at RAF Lakenheath


Release Date: 3/24/2004

By Senior Airman Pamela Lampert 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

RAF LAKENHEATH, England (USAFENS) - Soldiers from the 1-134th Field Artillery, Ohio Army National Guard, arrived recently to begin a nine-month tour at RAF Lakenheath working with the 48th Security Forces Squadron.

About 50 soldiers are here to supplement the 48th SFS and will be working with them in almost everything they do, said the Ohio contingent's commander Army Maj. Craig Baker. Their primary support responsibilities will be watching over the gates and patrolling areas around the flightline.

The Ohio soldiers took over force protection responsibilities from the Minnesota Army National Guard March 6.

Major Baker said he was more than pleased with the hospitality and cooperation of the Air Force and the Minnesota Guard.

"The soldiers of the Minnesota Guard successfully completed their mission and set an excellent example. We look forward to working with the 48th SFS and providing continued security for RAF Lakenheath," he said.

While Major Baker said providing security to for the base is the top priority, he has set some other goals for his soldiers.

"I have made several other goals for our personnel, but first and foremost is that every person assigned to our task force leaves here a more professional and better trained soldier," he said. "We want to work closely with our friends in the United States Air Force and learn everything we can from them."

Education is also a priority, said Major Baker.

"We are also working hard to get our soldiers to the schools and training they need in order to gain their next promotion. We are not just stressing military education but civilian also. I have challenged our team to utilize the educational resources here to further their civilian education through correspondence courses or other avenues," he said.

"Beyond the main military mission of security and the education of our soldiers, I am strongly encouraging them to take advantage of this situation and travel when possible to other areas of England and Europe," he continued.

Major Baker said he sees this deployment as a time for his soldiers to grow as a team, improve skills and teamwork, and to see the sights of the United Kingdom and Europe.

"I was a military history major at West Point, so just being in Europe for the first time is very exciting," he said.

The major said that the soldiers are enthusiastic about their time here and looking forward to many aspects of it.

"My soldiers and I are very excited to be here and look forward to learning how the Air Force works on a day to day basis," he said. "This is a unique opportunity for us because we will now get to work with the 48th SFS and learn how security missions are conducted. The mission of the Army has increased to include security missions abroad, so we must use this time wisely to prepare ourselves for possible future missions because it is very likely we may be called up again to provide security in other areas of the world."

(1st Lt. Patrick Rippeth, 48th Security Forces Squadron, contributed to this article)

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