Friday, September 3, 2010

476th FG supports host wing during upcoming deployment

by Senior Airman Spencer Gallien
23rd Wing Public Affairs

9/2/2010 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The 476th Fighter Group will support the 23rd Wing by sending more than 20 Airmen to fill critical roles within the 75th Fighter Squadron during an upcoming deployment.

The Reserve group, whose parent unit is the 442nd Fighter Wing located at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., was stood up at Moody in 2008 as part of the total force initiative to seamlessly integrate the unit within the 23rd Fighter Group and its respective squadrons.

"The 74th and 75th Fighter Squadrons have welcomed us in to their units as their own," said Col. Gregory Eckfeld, 476th FG commander. "Our members work directly in those squadrons and operate with them as part of their unit, which is the whole concept behind TFI."

This deployment marks a new chapter in the reserve group's integration and re-cements an already solid partnership with the 23rd WG.

"After we stood the group up here, we began integrating with the 23rd FG," said Colonel Eckfeld. "The first deployment we supported here, we sent six Airmen downrange, a very small number. This deployment, we were able to support the fighter squadrons on a much larger scale, sending five pilots, 18 maintainers and one member from the 442nd FW."

"This deployment marks a huge step in our progression to becoming fully integrated with the 23rd FG," he added.

Although the Reserve group is supporting the 75th FS on the largest scale they have since their inception, the group is not expected to be fully operational until 2012.

"Our ultimate goal is to support the 23rd Wing motto; attack - rescue - protect," Colonel Eckfeld said. "We are embracing that motto, and I couldn't be happier with the progress the group has made."

For many of the deploying reservists, they have spent numerous years on active duty and have extensive deployment knowledge.

"This is my first deployment as a reservist, however, my 10th deployment as an Airman," said Tech. Sgt. Michael Reeves, 476th Maintenance Squadron aircrew egress and systems journeyman. "I've deployed in support of the first Gulf War, I've been to Bosnia and I've been to Turkey - all on active duty.

"I've worked with the A-10C Thunderbolt II since 1992 at various bases, and I know a lot of reservists that have tons of experience," he added.

Each reservist, who will be deploying with the group, volunteered for their spot in the 75th FS's upcoming deployment.

"As an active-duty Airmen I was on the road constantly," said Sergeant Reeves. "I know what kind of toll it takes on your family, and being able to give one of my active duty counterparts the chance to stay home with their family is worth volunteering."

For other Airmen, the opportunity to volunteer was a chance to broaden their career-knowledge.

"I've deployed as an active-duty Airmen before, but never in my career field," said Senior Airman Trammel Geiger, 476th MXS crew chief. "This gives me the opportunity to deploy in my career field and gain more experience."

Although this deployment marks a large step in the progression of the group, Colonel Eckfeld stressed the importance of continuing to build upon their solid foundation.

"We have made great progress, but not all the pieces and parts are in place yet," he said. "Our logistics and supply, non commissioned officers and pilots are working hard to continue to build our group toward becoming fully operational."

Although the group came to Moody in 2008, the history of total force integration began in 1973, when a total force policy was designed to help guide decisions about how people available to the Department of Defense, whether active duty, Reserve, retired, federal civilian, Service auxiliaries or contractors, are structured to protect the nation's interests.

Today, as part of the TFI initiative, the 476th FG operates with the 23rd FG while their squadrons work alongside the 74th and 75th FS, and the 23rd Maintenance Group.

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Members from the 23rd Fighter Group and 476th Fighter Group process through a deployment line here August 24, 2010. The 476th FG, a Reserve unit that is functionally integrated with the 23rd Wing, will be joining the 75th Fighter Squadron during an upcoming deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Benjamin Wiseman) Hi-res


Note: Sounds like the 75th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron will replace the 81st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).

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