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Deployed Swamp Foxes urged to remain vigilant

An F-16 with the 157th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, flown by Major Stephen "Boards" Kaminski, takes off at Kandahar Airfield for a day-time mission over Afghanistan on July 1, 2012.  Personnel are deployed from McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Swamp Fox F-16's, pilots, and support personnel began their Air Expeditionary Force deployment in early April to take over flying missions for the air tasking order and provide close air support for troops on the ground in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Stephen Hudson)

An F-16 with the 157th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, flown by Major Stephen "Boards" Kaminski, takes off at Kandahar Airfield for a day-time mission over Afghanistan on July 1, 2012. Personnel are deployed from McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Swamp Fox F-16's, pilots, and support personnel began their Air Expeditionary Force deployment in early April to take over flying missions for the air tasking order and provide close air support for troops on the ground in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Stephen Hudson)

Staff Sgt. Michael Stockslager, a weapons loader with the 451st Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, guides Senior Airman Doug Meadows on a jammer while they load munitions on an F-16 on July 3, 2012. Members of the 169th Fighter Wing at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., are deployed to KAF in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Swamp Fox F-16's, pilots, and support personnel began their Air Expeditionary Force deployment early April to take over flying missions for the air tasking order and provide close air support for troops on the ground in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Stephen Hudson)

Staff Sgt. Michael Stockslager, a weapons loader with the 451st Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, guides Senior Airman Doug Meadows on a jammer while they load munitions on an F-16 on July 3, 2012. Members of the 169th Fighter Wing at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., are deployed to KAF in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Swamp Fox F-16's, pilots, and support personnel began their Air Expeditionary Force deployment early April to take over flying missions for the air tasking order and provide close air support for troops on the ground in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Stephen Hudson)

An F-16 with the 157th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron sits in the EOR at Kandahar Airfield as crew chiefs run through last minute checks as the jet readies for a day-time mission over Afghanistan on July 5, 2012.  Personnel are deployed from McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Swamp Fox F-16's, pilots, and support personnel began their Air Expeditionary Force deployment in early April to take over flying missions for the air tasking order and provide close air support for troops on the ground in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Stephen Hudson)

An F-16 with the 157th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron sits in the EOR at Kandahar Airfield as crew chiefs run through last minute checks as the jet readies for a day-time mission over Afghanistan on July 5, 2012. Personnel are deployed from McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Swamp Fox F-16's, pilots, and support personnel began their Air Expeditionary Force deployment in early April to take over flying missions for the air tasking order and provide close air support for troops on the ground in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Stephen Hudson)

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- With the current AEF cycle more than half-way through (at press time), SCANG commanders are recognizing deployed Airmen for their accomplishments and stressing vigilance on the home stretch.

Lt. Col. Boris Armstrong, 157th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander, said, "With the AEF halfway point behind us, it's a good time to review what we've accomplished and what we'll need to do to finish just as strong as we started. Looking forward, it will be a balancing act planning for our return while executing the mission."

Since taking over the Air Tasking Order at Kandahar Airfield, the Swamp Foxes have flown more than 1,717 sorties, for roughly 7,116 hours (meeting 100 percent of ATO tasking). The pilots have supported 884 Joint Tactical Air Requests, 330 Troops-In-Contact situations and 376 Priority Immediate tasks. JTARs are routine close air support assignments that normally have the Swamp Fox pilots over watch friendly forces operating outside the wire. As of July 1, 2012, The unit's pilots have dropped 84 bombs, shot 4,380 rounds of 20mm and executed 164 shows of force while the maintainers have accomplished 16 phase inspections, taking an average of only three days to complete each.

Armstrong said, "A big thanks goes out to maintenance, munitions, weapons, AGE and everyone contributing and working the long hours, many of them on the hot flight line, keeping the Swamp Fox machine running smoothly."

The unit is flying 20 lines per day instead of the 18 planned, providing more CAS to those who need it most.

Armstrong reminded the deployed Airmen to stay focused and vigilant as the days wane and thoughts turn to home and redeployment.

"The silly season is just around the corner. It's the time near the end of all deployments where we may be inclined to do something dumb, dangerous or different with the resulting sadness that follows," Armstrong said. "So keep up the good work, keep doing things smart, safe, and the same."

This is the wing's largest deployment since Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and the fourth major deployment of its F-16s since 2002 when the Swamp Foxes deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom when they flew more than 200 combat missions in the early days of the Afghan Campaign. The wing also deployed in 2003 and 2010 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Swamp Foxes are deployed through August of this year.