JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va., July 18, 2019 —
In a historic deployment, Airmen and F-22 Raptors have been sent to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar for the first time in order to defend American forces and interests in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
This deployment is a total force effort consisting of Airmen from the 1st Fighter Wing and 192nd Wing, with the support of the 633rd Air Base Wing, who train and deploy alongside one another, providing a ready force for the United States Air Force.
“I am incredibly proud of the 1st Fighter Wing over the last four weeks. Our nation called and we responded to a short-notice deployment sending F-22's to Qatar for the first time in history,” said Col. David Lopez, 1st Fighter Wing commander. “It was a herculean effort by our Airmen and families working tirelessly behind the scenes. There was heavy lifting across the board from our Low Observable team and maintainers loading tanks, from airfield operations coordinating airspace to our pilots planning flight routes through locations we hadn’t been before. It was truly a team effort across the installation with significant support from the 633rd Air Base Wing as we all worked around the clock to get our aircraft and Airmen out the door on a condensed timeline.”
The 1 FW trains for this type of short-notice deployment through multiple exercises. Whether it’s an adaptive basing exercise where fighter squadrons practice deploying small teams and aircraft to an unfamiliar location, or the Phase I Exercise in March, the 1 FW consistently demonstrates its readiness and ability to deploy.
According to Col. David L. Seitz, 1st Maintenance Group commander, Airmen’s lessons learned during the exercises proved valuable in making this deployment a success.
“There’s no doubt the Phase I exercise in February sharpened our readiness and responsiveness,” said Seitz. “The exercise showed we had lots of work to do in the C3 execution [command/control/communication] – but the team proved that’s not the case now.”
Seitz explained that a short-notice deployment, such as this one, brought to light some interesting challenges that the 1 FW was able to overcome.
“The biggest challenge in these situations is always communication – especially when multiple squadrons from multiple wings must stop what they’re doing and align competing priorities and agendas,” said Seitz. “This tasking literally threw dozens of seemingly unsolvable problems at them in the first day alone – but they all came together and crushed it.”
The 1 FW is a stellar example of how proper preparation and thorough training enables members of our Air Force to handle challenges at a moment’s notice and always be ready to accomplish the mission.