PORT HUENEME, Calif. – Members of the 146th Airlift Wing said goodbye to their families and friends before deploying for up to six months to support Operation Enduring Sentinel in Africa.
The deployment marks a shift for wing members as they transition from supporting operations in the Middle East to operations in the Horn of Africa.
“We’re going to be shifting gears from the old Air Expeditionary Force (AEF) deployment model to the new Air Force Force Generation (AFFORGEN) deployment model,” said Master Sgt. Adria Hadlock, a unit deployment manager for the 146th Airlift Wing.
The new model aims to move the Air Force’s personnel, aircraft and equipment into sections that train and deploy together as units move through each phase of the cycle in the AFFROGEN model.
“As we’ve slowly seen the shutdown of combat operations over there in Iraq and Afghanistan, it freed up resources to help us focus on operations in the Horn of Africa,” said Capt. Sean Ongley, an intelligence officer with the 146th Airlift Wing. “Africa has always been vital to U.S. interests. It is a critical strategic part of the world.”
Africa is important to world commerce because a lot of shipping moves through there. Lately, it has become a highly contested area due to the presence of several extremist groups.
“There’s long been an insurgent presence in the Horn of Africa from groups such as Al-Shabab to Isis. There are a lot of efforts to combat piracy there, as well,” said Ongley. “A lot of the host nation governments there are struggling to contain the extremists within their country, so it’s a good opportunity for the U.S. to work with their partners and help them combat those issues.”
The deployers will play a paramount role, helping to move supplies and troops within the area and perform other necessary tasks.
“I think it’s great that as an Air National Guard unit that we can support the Air Force mission as a whole and play a part in that,” said Ongley. “It’s a great opportunity for the unit to apply their operational experience and to do the mission out there.”
Hadlock said the deployers had almost two full months of additional required training, including a Tactical Combat Casualty Care course, Fieldcraft Hostile Environment training, and Evasion and Conduct After Capture training, all between holidays and other training requirements.
“It was a grueling schedule for the deployers and for those trying to push them through. It was a collaborative effort from the whole base to get them all ready. I’m proud that we were able to help them get all their requirements met and that everyone was able to get out the door on time,” said Hadlock.