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20th FW hands off alert mission to McEntire ANG

by Senior Airman Alexandria Mosness
20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

5/16/2011 - SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. (AFNS) -- The 20th Fighter Wing here turned over responsibility for the air sovereignty alert mission to the 169th Fighter Wing at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., recently.

The 20th FW controlled the alert mission from Sept. 11, 2001 to Nov. 15, 2003 and again from Aug. 1, 2006 to May 9, 2011.

The alert mission is a critical component to the strategic force that is poised 24/7 to respond to airborne threats over the United States, officials said.

The ASA mission requires three dedicated armed alert aircraft (two primaries and one spare) at each of the alert locations, with two pilots and associated maintenance and support personnel on duty 24/7.

"Shaw's role in the alert mission was to defend the Southeast Air Defense Sector and the 79 million American citizens within that sector from airborne threats," said Col. James Sears, 20th Operations Group commander.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the opening of the Air Force's newest alert site and the South Carolina Air National Guard's assumption of the homeland defense mission.

"I want to thank the 20th FW for meeting the challenge despite all the other things I know you have to do," said Maj. Gen. Garry Dean, the commander for the Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region - 1st Air Force, who spoke at the ceremony. "It's been an outstanding run."

As the 20th FW passes the alert mission to Airmen at McEntire JNGB, Colonel Sears expressed his best wishes and great expectations.

"We wish the 169th FW and the McEntire ANG the best as they take on this critical mission of defending the South East United States," Colonel Sears said.

(Members of the South Carolina Air National Guard contributed to this story)

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