SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Airmen from the Iowa Air National Guard’s 185th Air Refueling Wing departed this week for the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to provide air refueling support for the U.S. Air Force and partner nations.
About 100 Airmen are deploying as part of a scheduled Aerospace Expeditionary Force or “AEF” deployment.
The “Aviation Deployment Package” is departing just as another group of 185th ARW members has begun returning home following their “Reserve Component Period” deployments. The returning group of about 50 Airmen began to deploy individually to various locations in CENTCOM last fall.
The returning unit members were mainly from the 185th Support and Medical Groups. These unit members deployed for six months throughout CENTCOM to bases in Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
The deployment tasking departing this week has units like the 185th providing aircrew and aircraft maintenance personnel and some of the unit’s KC-135 refueling aircraft. The group includes support personnel as part of the aviation deployment package.
The 185th ARW has been providing people and aircraft for operations in CENTCOM for more than a decade, aiding U.S. military operations in the region. According to the CENTCOM website, their area of responsibility covers a 21-nation area in Southwest Asia.
Although the deployment concept has fluctuated over time, these deployments have Active-Duty Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units regularly rotating through bases throughout CENTCOM. The arrangement has only a portion of the 185th tasked to avoid depleting the unit’s capabilities at home.
Air National Guard deployments like this week’s aviation deployment package have Iowa Guard members mobilizing directly from their home station. The deployments rely heavily on members of the 185th Logistics Readiness Squadron, ensuring unit members meet various deployment requirements, including last-minute COVID testing.
Earlier this week, the 185th Medical Group quickly ushered the deploying Airmen through rapid COVID testing — the last item on their to-do list before departing.
Before returning home, these Airmen will typically spend a few months in the deployed location providing air refueling support with their KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft.