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Logistics Readiness in support of the 104th Fighter Wing deployment to Nellis AFB

Nellis AFB -- The 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes Air National Guard Base has deployed for two weeks to Nellis AFB in Nevada, in support of the USAF Weapons School.  This is one of three deployments for the 104th Fighter Wing in fiscal year 2016, each deployment growing in size throughout the year.  The next deployment is in support of "Red Flag," a high-intensity air-to-air combat training exercise, also at Nellis AFB; and a deployment to Europe.  The final challenge for the 104th in FY16 is an airshow, planned in the August/September time frame.

"We plan our deployments for each fiscal year to ensure we are maximizing the required training for our people and fulfilling the priorities of our major commands and the combatant commander" said Col. Pete Green, Vice Wing Commander. "We are an expeditionary Wing and our job is to mobilize and deploy when called upon, so these training deployments multiple times each year allow us to adapt to unique changes each time including the mission, location, updates to systems and processes, staff in new positions, and similar variations that make each and every deployment different."

An Air National Guard deployment is very similar to an active duty or Reserve deployment; the logistical processes are primarily the same, although there are small differences including the need to leverage support from active and Reserve resources, more limited air transportation support, and the need for Air Guard members to wear multiple hats to get the job done.  "We end up being very broad in our experience, because it still has to get done," said Maj. Wendy Kiepke, a Plans and Integration Logistics Readiness Officer. "It also maximizes resources and our investment."

The process of deploying a group of aircraft, equipment and people starts with planning many months in advance.  However, the 104th Fighter Wing can also deploy its F-15's within minutes, if needed as part of the critical Aerospace Control Alert mission.  "We are required to respond to a threat quickly in the alert mission and are ready 24/7" said Green, "but the big training or operational deployments are obviously different with the movement of hundreds of people and tons of equipment to support the F-15 mission anywhere in the world."

"Basically, in a deployment like this one to Nellis, we first determine the number of people and cargo required to support the mission.  Then we request airlift and start configuring who needs to go when, from the advanced team to the return...and there's a lot more to it, including budgets, lodging, transportation, schedules, and much more," said Kiepke.

Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield, Mass. is a mere 20 minutes away from Westover Air Reserve Base in Westover, Mass., which significantly facilitates airlift support.  "We are fortunate to have them so close, and we have an excellent working relationship," said Kiepke.  "It's a great example of Total Force Integration," she said.

"We have support agreements with many other military and non-military organizations, including Hanscom Air Force Base near Boston, Burlington Air National Guard Base in Vermont, Bradley Air National Guard Base in Connecticut...and many more including Department of Agriculture and US Customs.  These interagency agreements facilitate the process and make the deployment run far more efficiently," said Kiepke.
Barnes ANGB frequently uses Westover ARB for heavy lifts in support of people and cargo movements.  The runways at Westover are better for the larger aircraft, such as the KC-10 that were used to deploy to Nellis AFB.  "We prepare everything we can to make it as simple for Westover to service us. We also provide extra hands as well, to facilitate the process," said Kiepke. 

"I've deployed many times with the 104th Fighter Wing," said Maj. Michael Dibrindisi, Project Officer for the current Nellis deployment in support of the USAF Weapons School.  "This one is pretty straight forward for us.  It's fairly easy coming to Nellis...they are very accustomed to Wing's coming and going, so the on-base logistical support is well oiled," said Dibrindisi.  "We have had no major issues with this deployment, and we're looking forward to the next challenge," he said.