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Total force tanker operation comes to Andersen

by Tech. Sgt. Steven Wilson
36th Operations Group Public Affairs

10/6/2007 - ANDERSEN AFB, Guam (AFPN) -- Airmen here are used to seeing tanker units come and go, but this time a deployed contingent of aerial refueling specialists from Ohio are here to stay for about two months instead of the usual two or three weeks.

"We want to fully integrate with the 36th Wing and be a part of team Andersen," said Lt. Col. Steve Siefert, 506th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron commander. "We want our active duty counterparts to know we are here, know we are part of the same team and increase our (operational) knowledge base of each other."

The tankers and their crews are part of a large contingent of deployed Ohio Air National Guardsmen from the 121st Air Refueling Wing. They say their being here is important, given the state of affairs in today's world that require a U.S. military presence.

"This gives our (Air) Guard men and women an opportunity to use all of their training in a real world situation," said Lt. Col. Andrew Knapp, 506 EARS liaison officer. "Secondly, it gives our active duty counterparts an opportunity to see how well the Guard can assimilate alongside active duty personnel."

The deployed Airmen say they're slated to be here longer than the normal tanker rotation so Air Force officials can meet their continued goal of modernization and recapitalization of the current force.

"Currently in the Air National Guard community there are several units that are going through conversion or have been (affected by) base realignment and closure," Colonel Knapp said. "As a result of this, they are unable to deploy. So, the rest of the (Air) Guard tanker units have had to increase the number or length of their deployments to fill this void."

Their time here also will equate to plain old mission accomplishment, translating into raw combat power, said Colonel Siefert.

"By deploying to different locations and practicing how we go to war, we increase our breadth of experience," he said.

Their contributions aren't unnoticed.

"Aerial refueling truly gives our forces that global reach capability," said Col. Damian McCarthy, 36th Operations Group commander. "I'm glad the deployed Airmen from Ohio are here and I'm very much looking forward to working with them for the next few months."

Colonel Knapp said he will focus on the interface with Air Guard units and other agencies while deployed with one far-reaching objective in mind.

"I think the presence here of both tanker and bomber forces is true force projection," he said. "Our presence shows our enemies in this global war on terror that the U.S. is truly able to project our airpower anywhere in the world in a very short time."

The tanker operation here will directly support the continuous bomber presence in the Western Pacific, which is aimed at enhancing regional security and provides integrated training opportunities. 

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