SOUTHWEST ASIA, –
Airmen travel thousands of miles overseas to support the conflict against ISIS bringing with them an array of life experiences that prove again and again a reoccurring theme; the strength of the U.S. Air Force is in the diversity it bolsters.
The 380th Air Expeditionary Wing currently supports the Air Force’s five core missions with a considerable percentage of the deployed Airmen being members of the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard.
Total force integration is an integral aspect of the U.S. Air Force’s capability during the fight against ISIS while supporting Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.
Chief Master Sgt. Kruzelnick, 380 AEW command chief, spoke of the seamless transition deployed Airmen complete when deploying overseas and the benefit of having a total force team.
“The 380th [AEW] lives and breathes the 'One Air Force' concept,” Kruzelnick said. “This is the only way we can continuously deliver all five core mission sets of the Air Force 24/7/365.”
Master Sgt. Jerimy, 380th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron assistant flight chief, believes Airmen deploy from all walks of life and contribute to the mission regardless of their home station status.
“Right now we need a seamless transition to make sure the mission is complete,” Jerimy said. “Total force integration has taught me that the stigma of the guard is gone. We can train and deploy just as well as active duty can.”
Kruzelnick highlighted members of the 380 ESFS as an example of how the dual careers of guardsmen and reservists can benefit the Air Force mission in a deployed environment.
“In some cases, their civilian job compliments their military one quite well to bring an even better capability…which provides an incredible experience to our team.” Kruzelnick said.
Tech Sgt. Brian, a 380 AEW KC-10 Extender boom operator, shared the importance of total force integration in a deployed environment. As a member of a reserve crew, Brian said he has been tasked to serve interchangeably on active duty crews while deployed.
“We have to live and work together throughout this entire deployment,” Brian said. “We rely on each other to accomplish an important mission.”
From ensuring 3.06 million meals get served annually to maintaining $7 billion in aircraft assets, deployed Airmen at the 380 AEW operate professionally and reliably.
“It doesn’t matter what base we come from or whether we are active duty or guard or reserve,” said Staff Sgt. Amber, 380th Expeditionary Medical Group flight and operational Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge. “We are all able to operate the same.”
(Names have been removed for security reasons)