The District of Columbia Air National Guard’s 113th Wing launched the Air Guard’s first F-16 deployment to Afghanistan, departing from JB Andrews, Md., Tuesday. “This is the first F-16 package the Air National Guard will send to Afghanistan, so it presents some new challenges for us,” said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Johnson, 113th Wing commander. The deployment to Bagram Airfield follows a tour in Iraq that concluded some 18 months ago. “We have the lead NORAD mission to provide air defenses for the National Capital Region” rendering planning all the more complex, noted Johnson. “Even though we are deploying our forces forward to Afghanistan, we still maintain a constant response presence here at home.” A total of 175 aircrew, maintainers, and support personnel deployed with the Guard’s first F-16 package. (Andrews report by Maj. Elizabeth Kreft)
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.