Pep Talk

Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley, director of the National Guard Bureau, assured Mississippi Air National Guardsmen with the 186th Air Refueling Wing at Key Field during a visit last week that it’s “very much a team effort” to secure a new mission for the unit, which loses its KC-135 tankers under BRAC 2005. McKinley said, “We are working hard to eliminate or at least drastically minimize the time between the missions.” The wing had expected to transition to the C-27J Spartan Joint Cargo Aircraft, but the Pentagon has drastically reduced that program, at least for now, sparking concern among Air and Army Guard units around the country. The Air Force, which now stands to be sole JCA operator, is working with the Army now to iron out a revised C-27 basing plan and awaiting conclusion of the Quadrennial Defense Review and the latest mobility study to learn just how many C-27s the Pentagon will procure. Meanwhile, the 186th ARW has begun its temporary role as a training site for USAF’s new MC-12W intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance platform, the first of which deployed June 1 to support Southwest Asia operations (see above “Getting There”). Touring Key Field with McKinley, Army Maj. Gen. William Freeman Jr., Mississippi Adjutant General, said, “The MC-12 project is very important, and the C-27 mission will be equally viable.” He added: “Our No. 1 goal is to keep Meridian flying. So, keep on doing a great job here, and we’ll be OK.” (NGB report by Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke.)