Swamp Fox Airmen deploy like never before
By Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson, 169th Fighter Wing/Public Affairs
/ Published September 23, 2015
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- In never before accomplished fashion, the South Carolina Air National Guard Swamp Fox support staff is deploying a large contingency of...Swamp Fox support staff.
SCANG Airmen assigned to the 169th Mission Support Group are preparing for several six-month deployments to locations all across the globe in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel.
"I don't know that there's ever been a time in SCANG history when such a significant number and diversity of support folks were all on the road while Ops and Maintenance were at home," said Lt. Col. Jim Roth, 169th Force Support Squadron commander.
During the next few months, more than 130 Airmen from the Medical Group; Civil Engineer, Force Support, Logistics Readiness and Security Forces squadrons; Communications and Comptroller flights; and the Chaplains office, will be packing up and heading overseas. Spread out over nine countries on four continents, many of these deploying Airmen have never been mobilized for expeditionary combat support.
"It's beneficial for a lot of MSG [Mission Support Group Airmen] who haven't had a chance to deploy. A lot of first-time deployers get a chance to go and work in a different environment and come back with a new set of skills and a new outlook," said 1st Lt. Elizabeth Hewett, 169th Logistics Readiness Squadron Installation Deployment Officer.
Two main groups of SCANG Airmen are deploying as part of the Agile Combat Support construct, which consolidated the deployment taskings to a scheduled six-month window, rather than having multiple taskings that could come up throughout the year.
"The benefit to the Air National Guard with this construct is being able to reach out and deploy your drill-status guardsmen on a more consistent basis. This is easier for the guardsman and their [civilian] employer to forecast," said Capt. Michael Adams, 169th LRS Deployment and Distribution Flight Commander. "It's a benefit to the guardsman and their employer and it makes planning easier for deployment windows."
Roth said for several months, the units sending Airmen downrange have been working hard to stage for this historic event.
"It's taken a fair amount of creativity and flexibility to ensure the show goes on while much of the support group is deployed," said Roth.
Before the 169th Mission Support Group deployers fully return home from overseas, the F-16 aviation package will be ramping up for an Air Expeditionary Force rotation, sending out more Swamp Fox Airmen from Maintenance, Operations and other supporting squadrons.
By the end of 2016, one-third of Swamp Fox Airmen will have deployed overseas to support various contingency missions.
"If you look at our overall operations tempo, it really comes down to the people in this unit wanting to do their mission on a regular basis. Whether they're technicians or drill-status guardsmen, every aviation package we've deployed has been largely traditional Guard Airmen stepping up because they want to do their military job downrange. The Mission Support Group is now a full part of that," said Adams.