Friday, September 19, 2008

TOP STORY > >LRAFB will be a part of mobility command

Leader staff writer

When Little Rock Air Force Base becomes part of Air Mobility Command on Oct. 1, Brig. Gen. Rowayne Schatz will give up command of the 314th Airlift Wing and then take command of the base’s 19th Airlift Wing — an AMC unit that will make the base the most important C-130 component in the U.S., with more deployments, in addition to the training mission already here.

Col. James Johnson will be the new 19th AW vice commander, and Col. Charles Hyde will become the new 314th AW commander. Col. Mark Vlahos will remain the vice commander of the 314th AW.

The 314th Airlift Wing, under Air Education and Training Command (AETC), currently is the host wing at LRAFB and provides support to both AMC’s 463rd Airlift Group and the Arkansas Air National Guard’s 189th Airlift Wing.

“AMC’s 19th AW will continue the tradition of excellence as it assumes base operating support responsibilities — maintenance, mission support and medical — on Oct. 1,” according to a statement from base officials.

Schatz predicts a positive impact from the change in command of day-to-day operations at the base from the 314th Airlift Wing to the 19th Airlift Wing.

“It aligns the leadership more with the preponderance of resources that are with the Air Mobility Command,” he said.

The host-base transfer, part of BaseRealignment and Closure Com-mission (BRAC), led to numerous aircraft and unit realignments at LRAFB, including the transfer of several units to the 463rd Airlift Group and a reduction in the 314th Airlift Wing’s primary authorized aircraft.

According to the base’s official statement, the unit and aircraft realignments created a notable shift in mission focus from student training to mobility employment.

Senior leaders concluded an AMC Airlift Wing at LRAFB was in the best interest of the Air Force following BRAC. The secretary of defense justified the BRAC report, saying the base will grow to become the single major active-duty C-130 unit.

“The AMC unit will be designated the 19th Airlift Wing, and brings a rich lineage dating to 1927. This becomes AMC’s only C-130 Wing for meeting existing and future deployment requirements,” base officials said.

Previously known as the 19th Air Refueling Group, stationed at Robins AFB, Georgia, the group was inactivated in May 2008 as part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC).

The 19th Air Refueling Group provided worldwide in-flight refueling for combat, logistics and combat support aircraft of the United States and its allies as directed by the Department of Defense before being deactived for its move to Little Rock Air Force Base as the 19th Airlift Wing.

Col. Johnson, the new 19th AW vice commander, comes to LRAFB from MacDill AFB, Florida, where he is a liaison for U.S. Transportation Command, the single entity charged with directing and supervising execution of the strategic distribution system for the Department of Defense in peace and war.

A former airlift navigator in the C-141, Johnson is the liaison to Central Command, the U.S. military authority responsible for U.S. security interests in 25 nations stretching from the Horn of Africa through the Arabian Gulf region, into central Asia, overseeing both operations enduring and Iraqi Freedom, with over 190,000 U.S. troops across the region.

He is also the liaison to Special Operations Command, the command of over 45,000 Army, Navy, Marine, and Air Force Special Operations Forces given the mandate to lead, plan, synchronize, and as directed, execute global operations for the DoD against terrorist networks. As a liaison, he facilitates and shapes the timely understanding of worldwide transportation and distribution requirements, capabilities and processes.

Col. Hyde, the new 314th AW commander, comes to Arkansas from Ali Al Salem, Kuwait, where he is the vice commander of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing. The wing is the primary tactical airlift hub for resupply missions that support coalition operations in Iraq and provides combat service support to land component forces throughout Kuwait and Iraq.

A command pilot with more than 3,700 flight hours, Hyde is familiar with the C-130 world as he has flown both the C-130E and C-130H and also the T-37.

Hyde has commanded the 39th Airlift Squadron and served as 317th Airlift Group deputy commander at Dyess AFB, Texas, and was commander of the 320th Expeditionary Operations Group at Seeb Air Base, Oman, during operations enduring and Iraqi freedom.