Leader Blues

Monday, January 08, 2007

TOP STORY >>Base boost to bring $40M

IN SHORT: Hundreds of additional airmen will be assigned to the Jacksonville facility, while several others
will be deployed overseas this month.

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader staff writer

Little Rock Air Force Base can expect 300 to 400 airmen in the future and more of the ongoing rotation of airmen overseas, particularly in service of the military mission in Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq, Brig. Gen. Kip Self told his charges in a state-of-the-base address last week.

The additional airmen and about $47 million in base improvements flow from the Base Realignment and Closure Commission actions last year, said Self, the base commander and commander of the 314th Airlift Wing.

Self also told them that 43 new houses will be available for occupancy by base personnel in March, part of the privatization of base housing.

Air base personnel from the 314th Air Education Command and the 463rd Air Mobility Wing generally have troops deployed in that part of the world, according to Capt. Dave Faggard, public information officer.

The Air Force currently has 30,000 airmen deployed in 11 theaters of action around the world, according to Faggard.
Self has told his airmen that beginning in January, about 600 from the 314th Airlift Wing would be deployed, mostly to that region, and Faggard confirmed that some already had left.

Unlike the 463rd, the 314th does not deploy pilots or flight crews because they are charged with training the nation’s C-130 pilots and crews, but those deployed would be primarily support people, including security forces, cooks, lodging specialists, civil engineers, medical group personnel and others.

“I’ve got two of my own guys going over, graphic artists” Faggard said. “We have a mix of deployed locations. We are becoming more of a joint force every day,”he added. “We just had someone return from spending time on the USS Mercy, a Navy hospital ship.”
The security forces would be deployed “doing patrols outside the wire,” the spokesman said.
Some will be in harm’s way, he said. It’s a sign of the times with an expeditionary Air Force that’s proven in combat.
Even the graphic artist can wind up in war crime trials or taking pictures of runways and facilities at various air bases in theater.

Faggard said the wing was proud of personnel who have worked in Iraq or Afghanistan doing explosive ordnance disposal, including defusing improvised explosive devices along roadsides.
“At least one was injured and got a purple heart,” Faggard said.

Some of the airmen provide security for convoys.

“Central Arkansans see us out here flying C-130s, but a lot more goes into our mission of defending the nation,” he said.
Senior Airman Tim Bazar of The Drop Zone contributed to this article.