September Commander's View
By Col. Paul J. Hargrove, 146th Airlift Wing
/ Published September 08, 2012
CHANNEL ISLANDS AIR NATIONAL GUARD STATION, Calif. -- We had a change in the senior staff this past month and I would like to thank Col. Marilyn Rios for her outstanding leadership as the Vice Commander for the 146th AW since 2003. She has taken over the 162nd Combat Communications Group Commander position and she will be sorely missed here at Channel Islands. Join me in wishing her good luck and God Speed in her new position. An interview process will take place in the near future to fill the now vacant Vice Commander office. Col. Lou Danner will be the interim Vice Commander until the hiring process has been completed and Lt. Col. Clay Cowgill will fill the interim Mission Support Group Commander role.
The 146th AW has continued to fly MAFFS operations since being called out on June 30th. The Request for Assistance (RFA) has fluctuated from 6 MAFFS aircraft to the current RFA of 2. MAFFS 8, out of Charlotte, and MAFFS 4, out of Channel Islands, are based currently at McClellan airport in Sacramento and continue to be used daily to fight Northern California wildfires, as well as Oregon and Nevada fires. The fire season for Southern California is just getting started for September and October, so we may be busy with MAFFS for a couple more months. This season, MAFFS aircraft have completed 894 sorties, with 984 drops and expending 2,374,879 gallons of retardant. MAFFS has been continually activated since 23 June, starting in Colorado when 346 homes were destroyed. There is a lot of discussion at the National Guard Bureau, NORTHCOM, and AMC on how to handle the next year's fire season. Long term orders are being considered for next year and follow on season, but these decisions will be made during the off season, starting with the post season MAFFS conference 1-4 November in Colorado Springs.
I briefly discussed the Active Associate last Commander' View and would like to tell you what I know at this time. The AMC Commander, Gen. Raymond Johns, named Rhode Island and Channel Islands as C-130J Active Associate units in the Force Structure document released earlier this year. Gen. Johns wants to leverage the experience in the Air National Guard, especially in the C-130J, as the active duty is transitioning to this aircraft. They would like to have us instruct them in the operations and maintenance of the aircraft, learning from the over ten years of experience we possess in the C-130J. Gen. Johns wants to send us a squadron of operations and maintenance personnel, but not aircraft. This is where the Air National Guard and the Active Duty differ on the association. We have several years to work the details, but at this time, personnel only is not agreeable to NGB, California Military Department, and myself. Time will tell how the actual association will be comprised.
Lastly, we start our exercise preparation for our next Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI) this drill with a Prepare the Forces exercise. This exercise will get the deployment apparatus dusted off and running, processing over 100 personnel for deployment. Both personnel and cargo will be processed and loaded on four of our C130J aircraft. This is only a small portion of an ORI, but this is also only the first step in preparation. We will start working with Charlotte early next year to coordinate deployed Operational Readiness Exercises (ORE). The first deployed exercise will be in March 2013, with approximately fifty of our personnel from command positions deploying to a Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC) and practicing ORI related scenarios. This will be followed by a home station ORE in April 2013. AMC Inspector General has been researching home station ORIs, but at this time no clarity on whether this will affect our October 2013 ORI. The best way to prepare for now is to expect to deploy to a CRTC, as in the past, and if the IG changes to a home station ORI, we will easily adjust.
I hope everyone has a great, productive September drill and see you around the base,
Paul J. Hargrove, Col.