KANGERLUSSUAQ, Greenland --
The Air National Guard is known to be a force that is ready to respond to domestic emergencies. These proven capabilities range from natural disaster relief to civil disturbance operations. However, the scope of the Air National Guard’s federal mission, which calls for Air Guardsmen to serve in various nations around the world, is lesser known.
In April, as a C-130H from the 103rd Airlift Wing soared 1,500 feet above the snowy, mountainous landscape of western Greenland, the global reach of the Connecticut Air National Guard was on full display. In support of the National Science Foundation’s climate research mission, the 103rd transported equipment and NSF scientists from the northeastern United States to Greenland.
The NSF mission in Greenland is just one of many overseas missions that have been supported by the 103rd Airlift Wing and other Guard units across the United States. In fact, nearly half of the Air Force’s tactical airlift support is provided by the Air National Guard.
“As you can see, we’re sitting up here on top of the world,” said Lt. Col. Brian Hebert, 103rd Operations Group deputy commander and aircraft commander. From being able to move people and cargo around the United States, to disaster relief, to being able to come up here and support the National Science Foundation mission, we (the Air National Guard) have a multi-faceted role.”
The NSF mission is primarily supported by the 109th Airlift Wing, located in Schenectady, New York, With the expansion of the NSF mission in 2018, additional support from the Air National Guard is now needed; the 103rd has been tasked to provide additional support by fulfilling any mission requests that the 109th does not. Without airlift support from the Air National Guard, NSF mission capabilities would be hindered.
“There are certain specific mission sets that aren’t in any other branch of the service that our national defense strategy depends on,” said Col. Stephen Gwinn, 103rd Airlift Wing Commander. "This is just one more of the spokes in the wheel of national security that the Guard is the primary executor of.”
Connecticut Air National Guard support of the NSF mission highlights the Air National Guard’s ability to provide reliable global reach for the nation. Hebert is proud to have served as aircraft commander for the mission.
“It’s absolutely spectacular, " said Hebert. "The work that the scientists are doing up here is impressive and I’m glad to have the opportunity to take part in that.”