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 June 11, 2010

News

Unit ready to provide emergency support to Sparta-Fort McCoy Airport

Story & Photo by Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff

If the Sparta-Fort McCoy Airport found its operations interrupted by extreme weather or other circumstances, an airfield operations unit, such as the 1st, 107th Airfield Operations Battalion, might provide emergency support.

Members of the 1st, 107th, an Army National Guard unit from Smyrna, Tenn., trained at Fort McCoy May 31-June 10 in all phases of the unit’s operation, said Staff Sgt. Ashley Arnold. Arnold is the battalion training noncommissioned officer and the Air Traffic Navigation, Integration and Coordination System facility chief.

PHOTO: Members of the 1st, 107th Airfield Operations Battalion, train on establishing tactical airfield operations at Fort McCoy. Photo by Rob Schuette
Members of the 1st, 107th Airfield Operations Battalion, train on establishing tactical airfield operations at Fort McCoy.

“We can roll into a location and have everything we need (for airfield operations) up and running in three hours,” Arnold said. “If we needed other assets to help us, we would call them in.”

The unit can provide assistance during natural disasters or in a contingency or combat area, as needed, she said. Unit members have supported operations after Hurricane Katrina and have been deployed to support Operation Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom.

During their two weeks of training at Fort McCoy, unit members also accomplished weapons qualifications and other required military tasks, trained in an unfamiliar location and learned their jobs or became more proficient in their jobs, Arnold said.

Sgt. Jon Braden of the tactical tower/control system section of the 1st, 107th said section personnel could work in either a fixed-base or a tactical-base tower.

“Putting up and running the tactical tower (equipment) is cross-training for those who work in the fixed-base tower,” Braden said. “We have mobility with the setup, and can communicate with aircraft as we’re moving down the road. We can have everything in our area set up in 30 minutes.”

James Hubbard, Sparta-Fort McCoy Airport manager, said the 1st, 107th or a similar unit potentially could be an important support asset for Sparta-Fort McCoy Airport military operations.

“In the case of a snowstorm or some other inclement weather or natural disaster event, they could provide the emergency relief we need to continue military operations,” Hubbard said. “If we had a mobilization mission at the airport, the unit members also potentially could provide the support (and manpower) we need to successfully help accomplish that mission.”

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