After flying 242 sorties and dropping 609,960 gallons of fire retardant over wildfires in Arizona and New Mexico since June 16, airmen and their specially equipped C-130s concluded their mission. On Thursday, personnel and two Modular Airborne Firefighting System-carrying C-130s from Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Airlift Wing returned home to Peterson AFB, Colo., from Kirtland AFB, N.M., their temporary operating base as they battled the fires. Over the mission’s course, the North Carolina Air National Guard’s 145th Airlift Wing in Charlotte and the California’s ANG’s 146th AW at Channel Islands ANG Station each also dispatched two MAFFS-fitted C-130s to Kirtland to help. “The team success over the past 30 days demonstrated the professionalism and effectiveness of the citizen airmen who volunteer for this vital mission,” said Lt. Col. Dave Condit, deputy commander of the 302nd Air Expeditionary Group that oversaw this aerial firefighting operation. (Peterson release)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.