West Virginia Air National Guard’s 167th Airlift Wing Participates in Historic Surge
By Master Sgt. Emily Beightol-Deyerle, 167AW/PA
/ Published October 20, 2011
Martinsburg, W.Va. -- Flying seven of its 11 assigned C-5 Galaxy aircraft, the West Virginia Air National Guard's 167th Airlift Wing is participating in an historic "surge" this week.
Based in Martinsburg, W.Va., the 167th Airlift Wing has been tapped to demonstrate its readiness, power, flexibility and partnership capabilities during the exercise which will test the nation's largest military airlifters.
The military exercise - which takes place Oct. 17-21 - brings together 41 Active Duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve C-5 Galaxy aircraft and crews flying cargo in support of missions around the globe. The historic "surge" is designed to more than double the normal day-to-day workload of the C-5 units participating in the exercise.
The C-5 aircraft routinely delivers life-saving equipment, supplies, cargo and passengers to United States military forces stationed worldwide. With its ability to fly more than 6,000 miles without refueling, the U.S. military's largest aircraft provides the necessary flexibility needed to meet the demands of contingency and humanitarian missions around the world. The C-5 has been the Air Force's workhorse since the 1970s providing critical successes to global mobility operations.
Lieutenant Colonel Donald Magners, a pilot for the 167th Airlift Wing, says the missions flown during the exercise are similar to the missions flown during any given week. "We have 3 missions into Bagram, and we have missions flying into Turkey, Dji Bouti, Kuwait, Japan and Korea," said Magners.
According to officials at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, the "surge" tests the ability of the United States Transportation Command and its air component, Air Forces Transportation, to rapidly provide strategic airlift capability in response to large scale crises and contingencies.
Typically, the 167th Airlift Wing has two to three C-5 aircraft supporting these types of missions at any given time. This week the unit is doubling its efforts by providing seven aircraft or 17 percent of the total support for the exercise, according to Col. Richard Robichaud, commander of the Wing's 167th Operations Group.
"We're playing a really key role in the nation's airlift efforts, to support war efforts and our forces worldwide," Robichaud said.
There are usually only 18 global C-5 missions in the system on any given day. The best C-5 daily achievement since 2007 was 33 C-5s flown without mobilization.
According to Air Force officials, the surge tests the U.S. Air Forces' readiness and capability at a time when the military branch faces intense, ongoing demands on its capacity. It provides a valuable opportunity to exercise and evaluate its enterprise - enhancing readiness and strategic agility.
"With a surge like this, it takes a little time to prepare and some time to recover, but it's nothing out of the ordinary for us," said Lt. Col. Steven Truax, deputy commander of the Wing's 167th Maintenance Group.
Truax said the Wing is demonstrating an "increased capability temporarily, but we don't have to change anything to accommodate that."
Adding: "Capability and flexibility is what we do every day out here."