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Active-duty unit marks first year under Guard wing

by 1st Lt. Tim Lockwood
153rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

7/10/2007 - CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AFPN)  -- Airmen of the 153rd Airlift Wing celebrated the first anniversary that marked the assimilation of active-duty Airmen into the Wyoming Air National Guard July 7 here.

One year ago, active-duty Airmen reported to Cheyenne Regional Airport as the 30th Airlift Squadron stood up as Air Mobility Command's first active associate unit under the operational control of the Guard's 153rd AW.

"Some people see the active association as an experiment. We see it as a way to make sure the nation gets the most out of its airplanes, air crews and tax dollars," said Col. Harold Reed, the 153rd AW commander. "On any given day, we can better utilize our airframes because we have the added manpower of the 30th personnel." 

In July 2006, only a handful of active-duty Airmen arrived here. Now, 120 active-duty Airmen are integrated into the wing's operations, maintenance and support groups, working side-by-side with Wyoming Air National Guard members.

The 153rd AW formally commemorated the anniversary during the Wyoming Air National Guard's wing formation July 7 with remarks by Colonel Reed and Col. Jeffrey Hoffer, the 463rd Airlift Group commander. The 463rd AG at Little Rock AFB, Ark., has administrative control of the 30th AS.

The active association created a new squadron, but it also represents a new idea for the Air Force. Previous associate unit arrangements have been the reverse of the one thriving in Cheyenne, stationing Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve units on active-duty bases to share active-duty assets.

"We took what the active duty Air Force and Guard brought to the table and combined it to develop an entirely new animal," Colonel Reed said. "We combined the youth and exuberance of the active-duty (personnel) with the age and experience of the Guard." 

Squadron members benefit from the training they receive from National Guard Airmen and also benefit from being in the National Guard environment, said Senior Master Sgt. Rick McKean, the 30th AS enlisted operations superintendent.

"Our younger squadron members have no idea what a rich environment this is,"
said the 18-year Air Force veteran. "Here, we get the chance to deploy for operations like Coronet Oak and Joint Forge and do off-station trainers. In the active-duty world, those opportunities are not available. And, we still deploy to the desert for combat. With that mix, it can't get any better."

The association truly has shown the sum of the whole is greater than its parts, Colonel Reed said.

"The first year has flown by," said Maj. Jeffrey DeVore, the operations officer and acting 30th Airlift Squadron commander. Major DeVore is filling in for Lt. Col. Steve Hopkins, the 30th AS commander who currently is deployed. 

"When you look over your shoulder and see how much we have accomplished, it's astounding," Major DeVore said. "The Wyoming military department has totally embraced us. It hasn't been easy, but we've had (153rd AW) support all along, and it has been outstanding support."

Support from the Wyoming Air National Guard's flying squadron, the 187th Airlift Squadron, has been a key factor in his squadron's milestones, Major DeVore said.

"The 187th made getting us up to speed a priority for them," he said. "Air Mobility Command gave us until Oct. 1, 2007, to have crews ready to deploy. We were ready and had crews out the door before that."

The first deployment of combined crews came only four months after the 30th AS stood up. Last October, Operation Coronet Oak was the first of what has become standard operating procedure for active-duty and National Guard crews flying together to complete one mission.

Over the past year, 30th AS Airmen participated in missions in four military theaters of operation, spanning five continents and three hostile-fire zones, while moving more than 320,000 pounds of cargo and approximately 500 passengers.

The combined effort brought both challenges and lessons in how the units work together, Major DeVore said.

"It's that success and hard work that means the 30th AS is likely to be a permanent and valued member of the 153rd AW and the community of Cheyenne, Wyo., for a long time," he said. "The military as a whole is going toward a total-force concept. This is just the first step."

"We're both better at what we do because of each other," Colonel Reed said. "We've learned to flex in everything we do. We're better on deployments because of our combined efforts."

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