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Air National Guard Director visits 188th Wing

FORT SMITH, Ark. -- The Director of the Air National Guard met with 188th Wing Airmen at Ebbing Air National Guard Base here Dec. 5.

Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III visited to gain a better understanding of the 188th's Airmen, mission and capabilities.

"As the director of the ANG I have to have visibility on what the units are doing out there so we know how well we are supporting them from the National Guard Bureau," Clarke said. "Visiting a unit like this gets me eyes on their facilities, people and the mission, and then I can take that back to the National Guard Bureau and do my job better."

Clarke's arrival comes shortly after the 188th recently began a mission conversion to remotely piloted aircraft and intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance mission sets. Clarke's visit afforded Airmen of the 188th an opportunity to showcase the wing's capabilities in their respective career fields over the day-long visit.

"We were certainly appreciative that Lt. Gen. Clarke took the time to visit the 188th," said Col. Mark W. Anderson, 188th Wing commander. "This visit allowed us the opportunity to showcase our exceptional Airmen as well as the unique and phenomenal capabilities we have at the 188th."

After arriving at Ebbing ANGB, Clarke was briefed on the new mission and additional key capabilities of the 188th by members of senior leadership. Subsequently, Clarke was taken on a tour of the facilities the Flying Razorbacks utilize each day to accomplish the ANG mission.

"The leadership is spot on with this conversion over to the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission, doing a great job getting the Airmen focused in the right direction and keeping them upbeat about the new mission," Clarke remarked. "This mission is not only important to the National Guard and the Air Force, it is important to the nation."

While at the 188th, Clarke also had lunch with 19 Flying Razorbacks who have recently won major awards or logged significant achievements during their military careers or in their respective communities. Clarke coined each Airmen for their efforts.

Clarke was also given demonstrations at the 188th Civil Engineering Squadron's urban search and rescue facility and a ground tour at Detachment 1 Razorback Range. At the USAR facility, the director observed demos on USAR, rapid engineer deployable heavy operational repair squadron engineer equipment and the remote air, zonal operations, reach back-processing assessment and dissemination. The USAR facility, RED HORSE equipment staging and RAZORback PAD are all unique 188th assets available for training and use by the entire ANG. The RAZORback PAD, an asset of the 188th's Wing's 123rd Intelligence Squadron, provides a unique domestic operations capability by linking real-time data from aerial assets and converting it to valuable information and video on the ground.

When the capabilities exhibitions were completed, Clarke was taken to Razorback Range. Upon arrival, the director was given a ground tour of the range, took part in two briefings and a joint terminal attack controller simulation depicting the capabilities and effectiveness of the Razorback Range's proximity for training opportunities for the Total Force.

The tour of the range showed also captured the 188th's critical partnerships and close working relationships with Fort Chaffee Joint Maneuver Training Center and Special Forces operators.

"As a part of the visit I got the chance to see the joint training capabilities that are found out there at Fort Chaffee and Razorback Range," Clarke stated. "I got to see how in the future we would use a remotely piloted aircraft out there to support the joint training. I got comments from several joint partners out there about how much value they get out of the training that is provided out there and how the 188th plays into that."

Upon conclusion of the range tour, Clarke met with Fort Smith city officials. The 188th has immeasurable support in the local area and to showcase it Clarke met with multiple leaders from across the community and thanked them for their support to the wing and the Air National Guard.

After meeting with city officials, Clarke departed Fort Smith for Little Rock Air Force Base. There, he will be partaking in a street dedication and medal presentation for fallen fellow Arkansas ANG member, Master Sgt. Dan Wassom, who lost his life shielding his daughter during a tornado in April 2014.

"My takeaway from this visit is that the 188th is going in a great direction," Clarke said. "In the future, I think it's going to be well received by all of our mission partners."