188th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
7/2/2012 - FORT SMITH, Ark. -- Approximately 275 Airmen with the 188th Fighter Wing departed Fort Smith July 2 for Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The Airmen will be deployed approximately three months.
The deployment is part of an Air Expeditionary Forces (AEF) rotation, which the 188th is sharing with the Baltimore-based 175th Wing.
"It's never easy deploying men and women into combat and we appreciate their sacrifices as well as those made by their families," said Col. Mark Anderson, 188th Fighter Wing commander. "We have some of the most highly trained and capable Airmen in the Air Force and I have complete confidence that they will focus on the mission and exceed all expectations. From the maintainers to the pilots and support personnel, our men and women have continued to exhibit dedication and professionalism in the face of adversity. We're very proud of our Airmen and we await their safe return."
The personnel leaving July 2 will be deployed approximately three months and will join a group of approximately 75 Airmen with the 188th already deployed to Afghanistan to supplement the 175th's portion of the AEF rotation.
Approximately 20 Airmen with the 188th deployed to Afghanistan last week as part of an advance team which will prepare for the arrival of the larger group.
In total, the 188th deployed approximately 375 Airmen to Afghanistan during this AEF rotation.
The A-10 mission in Afghanistan is to fly close-air support in response to ground troops who may be in contact with the enemy, or to escort convoys in particularly hostile areas. When not supporting ground troops, A-10s patrol designated sectors and provide aerial reconnaissance on locations of interest to ground commanders.
This is the second AEF deployment for the 188th as a unit since receiving A-10s April 14, 2007. The 188th's last AEF rotation transpired in 2010 when the unit deployed approximately 300 Airmen and 10 A-10Cs to Kandahar, Afghanistan.
While the 188th prepares year-round for its mission, it has conducted an intense training regimen in the past six months in preparation for its AEF rotation. The 188th deployed approximately 300 operations, maintenance and support personnel along with multiple A-10Cs to participate in Operation Snowbird at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Feb. 11-26, 2012.
The deployment to Davis-Monthan afforded the 188th with the opportunity to conduct training and gain operational experience in a mountainous, desert terrain, which closely mimics the climate and conditions in Afghanistan.
The 188th also participated in Green Flag-East, a combat training exercise located at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., which allows A-10s to work with attack controllers to coordinate precise live and inert weapons deliveries.
"This is what we train for year round," said B.J. Ginger, an A-10 pilot with the 188th Fighter Wing. "Each deployed location is different and we prepare for everything."
Note: The Flying Razorbacks will replace at least most of the personnel from the 104th Fighter Squadron, 175th Wing (Maryland ANG), for the second stint of their shared ANG "Rainbow Team" combat deployment.