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185th ARW exercise held despite COVID-19, Hurricane Sally

By Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot | 185th Air Refueling Wing | Sept. 16, 2020

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa – The Iowa Air National Guard’s 185th Air Refueling Wing is conducting a mobility exercise this week after making a last-minute decision to move the event away from the Gulf Coast because of Hurricane Sally.

Lt. Col. Scott Slaughter, 185th Air Refueling Wing exercise deployment commander, said unit members were to go to Gulfport, Mississippi, but due to the weather in the region, the exercise moved to Topeka, Kansas.

Part of the Guard is that we are first responders. Instead of just shutting down through this, we have wanted to stay operational, and we have done that,” said Slaughter. “We have continued to execute our mission globally through the pandemic, and part of that is getting the mission done while being safe.”

The main purpose of the exercise, according to Slaughter, is to test the refueling wing’s ability to mobilize and quickly set up and operate in a deployed location.

Slaughter said that weather concerns and threats posed by COVID-19 presented some unique challenges.

The exercise includes the deployment of the unit’s aircraft and aircraft maintenance and involves nearly every agency of the refueling wing.

“The mission requires every function to support what we normally need, day to day at an air wing while at a deployed location,” Slaughter said.

The Air Refueling Wing is equipped with the U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker. Slaughter added that the exercise required support from several outside agencies.

A U.S. Air Force C-130 from the 182nd Airlift Wing of the Illinois Air National Guard from Peoria, Illinois, was part of the aircraft movement. A U.S. Air Force KC-46 Pegasus from the New Hampshire Air National Guard’s 157th Air Refueling Wing was in Sioux City to help move Airmen and cargo.

Also, a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster from the 105th Air Wing at the Stewart Air National Guard base in Newburgh, New York, was also part of the 185th exercise.

Airmen from the Iowa Air Guard will be in Topeka until the end of the week when they will once again pack everything and move back to Sioux City after the exercise.