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Members of the 159th Fighter Wing, Louisiana Air National Guard, work at a point of distribution site Sept. 6, 2012, in Davant, La.
Members of the 159th Fighter Wing, Louisiana Air National Guard, work at a point of distribution site Sept. 6, 2012, in Davant, La. These distributions sites were established during the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac to assist residents in of food, water, ice, tarps and other needed supplies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Dan Farrell/RELEASED)
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ANG proves its value to America both abroad, at home

Posted 10/19/2012   Updated 10/22/2012 Email story   Print story

    


by Senior Master Sgt. Jerry R. Bynum
Air National Guard Special Staff Public Affairs


10/19/2012 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- Who will be there to help during a crisis or natural disaster? Is there someone you can count on when help is needed? Think about your state and community, who can you count on for a hand... food, water, security, and medical assistance?

The Air National Guard continues to demonstrate its value to America every day by executing federal missions at home and abroad while simultaneously supporting their states.

"One of the things that we do in the Air National Guard is leverage those skills and capabilities that are needed for the [federal] fight and bring those skill sets and capabilities to help [the states when called upon]," said Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, the director of the ANG. "It's really a win-win for the country; it's a win-win for the United States Air Force."

ANG units are different from their active-duty counterparts because in addition to supporting federal missions, but they support a state mission as well. The dual mission, a provision of the Constitution, results in each Air Guardsman holding membership in the ANG of his or her state and in the ANG of the U.S. When ANG units are not mobilized or under federal control, they report to the governor of their respective state or territory. The ANG is ready when called upon during times of crisis or natural disaster to position Air Force capabilities at home.

ANG units across the country support missions at home as well as overseas supporting the Total Force concept. They do this along with a litany of other readiness requirements and tasks; with multiple obligations they still find a way to take care of Americans when called upon on the home front.

One example of ANG units providing support for multiple missions simultaneously was recently demonstrated in Louisiana during the summer. The ANG's 159th Fighter Wing located at Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base New Orleans was recently put to the test.

The 159th FW provides combat-ready F-15 Eagle aircraft for operational missions in support of Air Expeditionary Forces overseas and Aerospace Control Alert mission providing aerospace control to ensure air sovereignty and air defense of the U.S. using an operations system designed to quickly detect, identify, and engage air, land and sea threats. They also provide a wide range of other capabilities such as security, logistics, medical support and many other skill sets. In August 2012, the 159th FW was executing AEF and ACA missions ... unknown to them, yet another mission was developing in the Gulf of Mexico.

"We know that should [Louisiana] need us for disaster response, we must be instantly available to answer the call," said Col. Roy V. Qualls, the commander of the 159th Fighter, Louisiana Air National Guard. "We expect, indeed anticipate and welcome the call should any events necessitate our response."

The 159th FW was ready to answer the state's call when Hurricane Isaac made landfall on the Louisiana mainland August 29 as a Category 1 hurricane. Although comprised of relatively low wind speeds, its slow forward groundspeed with heavy rainfall and strong storm surge proved to be a destructive force in the area. The 159th FW recalled more than 1,100 Airmen to support the residents of Louisiana.

The Louisiana ANG was fully engaged on three fronts, performing federal missions overseas and on alert while simultaneously executing a critical state disaster response mission.

"Airmen saved lives, protected property, and assisted the residents of Louisiana in every imaginable way," said Qualls. "Keep in mind that many of the Airmen responding to this storm also received major damage to their own homes. Despite the uncertainty surrounding their personal property, they continued to protect and sustain others."

The 159th FW was tasked with providing support to one of the hardest hit areas in New Orleans, the Plaquemines parish. Hours after landfall, Airmen were heavily involved in relief efforts. Missions included evacuations, airlift operation coordination, and supply distribution. Thousands of people received vital assistance and commodities that were otherwise unavailable due to damage or power outages.

Despite suffering more than $10 million in damage to base facilities, the 159th FW was fully operational supporting its ACA mission hours after Hurricane Isaac had passed. Less than one hour after resuming alert duties, F-15 Eagles were flying over Louisiana skies supporting and defending freedom.

"I'm proud of our continued history of mission success," said Qualls. "[Louisiana Air Guardsmen] performed flawlessly and selflessly, responding to the call of duty from their nation and their state."

The 159th FW is one example of units performing multiple missions such as AEF and ACA on a daily basis. More than 106,000 ready, reliable and capable Airmen from 89 flying wings and units throughout the 50 states, three territories, and the District of Columbia are ready to answer the call.

The ANG is ready to help during times of crisis and natural disaster. When the call for help comes, citizen Airmen selflessly rise to the occasion to help their families, neighbors and communities.

Get an in-depth account of how ANG Airmen performed during Hurricane Isaac; see the story "What value do Air Guardsmen bring to America ... the ability to provide combat capabilities or something more?" at http://geauxguard.com/what-value-air-guardsmen-bring-to-america/.



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