Swamp Fox Air Traffic Controllers deploy for Operation INHERENT RESOLVE
By 1st Lt. Stephen Hudson, 169th Fighter Wing
/ Published October 16, 2016
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- While Hurricane Matthew barreled up the eastern United States, one group from the South Carolina Air National Guard loaded their gear to face a very different set of challenges.
On Oct. 9, more than a dozen Airmen from the 245th Air Traffic Control Squadron deployed to Iraq for six months in support of Operation INHERENT RESOLVE. This deployment is the unit's largest scale since Afghanistan in 2002 for Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. The 245th ATCS has had 1-2 people in AOR every year from 2001-2012.
"This deployment is significant in that it's the first time in 13 years that this unit has moved this radar equipment any significant distance and approximately 10 years for our community since we've deployed a full radar system overseas," said Lt. Col. Craig Hummel, commander of the 245th Air Traffic Control Squadron. "That involved quite a bit of logistical support."
The 245th ATCS is one of 10 ten units in the Air National Guard that support short-notice, tactical air traffic control and landing systems for world-wide deployment and domestic operations.
The unit deployed approximately 30 Airmen in conjunction with the 248th ATCS out of the Mississippi Air National Guard as a part of Operation INHERENT RESOLVE in Iraq. While deployed they will provide precision approach capabilities and air navigation systems.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, the 245th ATCS has been active in the Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility, said Hummel.
"While they are there they will provide bad-weather support to arriving and recovering aircraft to include precision approach radar - which is a procedure where a controller gives small control instructions to a pilot to get them all the way to the ground when there is zero visibility," Hummel said. "In addition to that, we have taken equipment that allows coalition aircraft to hone in on the base and navigate back in bad weather."
Hummel said the Airmen from McEntire range in rank from senior airmen to chief master sergeant and approximately 30 percent are full-time while the rest are traditional Guardsmen.
"We have put together a team of highly-qualified, highly-motivated individuals to go and accomplish a mission we haven't been tasked to do (OCONUS) in many years, and it's good to know the atrophy hasn't set in and these people are raring to go," Hummel said. "I could not be prouder of them."