April 2, 2016 (DULUTH, Minnesota) — The 148th Fighter Wing out of Duluth is set to deploy to Osan Air Base, about 40 miles south of Seoul, South Korea, beginning the week of April 10.
The Minnesota Air National Guard’s 148th Fighter Wing, an element of Air Combat Command, is deploying fighter aircraft to the region in order to provide U.S. Pacific Command and Pacific Air Forces with Theater Security Packages, which help maintain a deterrent against threats to regional security and stability.
“We are being employed by a combatant command that seeks and values the experience, competence and commitment of Minnesota’s Citizen-Airmen,” said Brig. Gen. Sandy Best, chief of staff of the Minnesota Air National Guard. “The Minnesota Air National Guard has been preparing for this mission for more than a year, and it is not a reaction to any specific action in the region.
“The deployment reflects a shift in how the Minnesota National Guard’s Air and Army units are being utilized as operational forces in ongoing operations to support active service components.”
To support the Theater Security Package, which is part of a routine deployment of fighters throughout the Asia-Pacific region that has been in place since 2004, the 148th will provide approximately 300 Airmen and twelve F-16s for nearly 4 months.
“While deployed we will continue normal day-to-day operations,” said Lt. Col. Curt Grayson, commander of the 179th Fighter Squadron and the 148th’s deploying commander. “By training in Osan it allows us to be in the pacific theater and respond to any threat with limited time and distance.
“This deployment will also be a valuable training opportunity for not only our pilots and our maintainers, but will further develop relationship with our international partners and Pacific Air Force Command.”
During the past year the 148th Fighter Wing conducted several large-scale exercises to prepare for the deployment, including Red Flag Alaska, in which the wing trained with the Republic of Korea Air Force.
“The Airmen that will be departing to South Korea over the next two weeks are well-trained, well-led and well-equipped,” said Col. Jon Safstrom, commander of the 148th Fighter Wing. “Our 148th Fighter Wing will fly the Block 50 F-16CM, the newest and most capable F-16 in the U.S. Air Force fleet.”
“The wing has actively supported previous overseas Air Expeditionary Force and Expeditionary Combat Support missions in support of the Global War on Terror,” said Safstrom. “Our missions have taken our team to Iraq, Afghanistan, Europe and the Pacific – this is the first time our unit has deployed to South Korea.”
by Staff Sgt. Patrick Loch
1st Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs