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Wing transports task force, kept mission on track

A UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter is loaded into a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft assigned to the 167th Airlift Wing at Buckley Air Force Base July, 7. A helicopter task force comprised of four helicopters and 50 guardsman were transported to Germany to provide conventional aviation capability to Special Operations Forces there. (U.S.National Guard photo by Spc. Shaun Morey)

A UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter is loaded into a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft assigned to the 167th Airlift Wing at Buckley Air Force Base July, 7. A helicopter task force comprised of four helicopters and 50 guardsman were transported to Germany to provide conventional aviation capability to Special Operations Forces there. (U.S.National Guard photo by Spc. Shaun Morey)

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The 167th Airlift Wing hauled a helicopter task force (HTF) from Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. to Germany to support Special Operations Command - Europe (SOCEUR), July 8.

Two C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from the wing each carried 10 soldiers and two UH-60 Black Hawks assigned to the Colorado, Utah and Kansas Army National Guards to Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

The HTF flew on to Illeshiem Army Airfield, Germany where it is providing conventional aviation capability to Special Operations Forces to help them build and maintain readiness.

"The mission started with a good idea from some Guardsmen that happened to be working on a one to two year tour at SOCEUR. They saw an opportunity to set up a mutually beneficial mission to help grow junior leaders in a foreign environment and at the same time keep SOF current in tasks like static parachuting, free fall parachuting, and fast rope insertion and extraction system," said Lt. Col Anthony D. Somogyi, the task force commander and a Colorado Army National Guardsman.

Building the task force from the ground up did not come without challenges. Figuring out how to deploy the National Guard assets to support an active duty component took a great deal of work according to Somogyi. There were times when it seemed the mission would be cancelled for various reasons but having the airlift established provided a timeline to plan to.

Somogyi credited the confirmation of transportation as "the single most important thing that kept this mission on track."

Capt. Sam Harrison, a pilot and aircraft commander for the 167 AW, coordinated the transportation of the HTF with Somogyi prior to the mission.

"Working directly with the customer makes it a more seamless process, we can provide that reliability" said Harrison.

The 167 AW is scheduled to transport the HTF back to Colorado in late September.
A request for forces for the enduring part of the HTF mission is in the approval process.