Pease partners with McConnell, stands up active-duty squadron
By By Staff Sgt. Amanda Currier, 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 08, 2009
MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Part of McConnell Air Force Base isn't in Kansas anymore.
Now, a piece of McConnell is in New Hampshire at Pease Air National Guard Base.
That piece is the 64th Air Refueling Squadron.
The 64th ARS stood up Oct. 2 at an official military ceremony at Pease.
It's the first active-duty Air Force unit to return to the Air National Guard base since 1991, when Pease AFB, then an active-duty installation, closed.
"It's obvious the people of Portsmouth (N.H.) and the surrounding areas are very excited to have the active duty back," said Col. Jamie Crowhurst, commander of the 22nd Air Refueling Wing who attended the ceremony from McConnell. "It's obvious our folks are excited to be here."
The 64th ARS is administratively assigned to McConnell but is located with, and gets operational direction from, its host unit, the157th Air Refueling Wing at Pease. This means McConnell handles performance reports, awards and decorations and other administrative functions for 64th ARS members, but the unit's day-to-day mission objectives come from Pease.
Airmen selected from installations across Air Mobility Command, including McConnell, recently moved to Pease to form the 64th ARS. The squadron will have between 120 and 130 members once everyone is in place.
The partnership is part of the Air Force's total force integration effort to increase efficiency by combining active-duty, Guard and Reserve resources. The 157th ARW is the first of three ANG KC-135 Stratotanker wings scheduled to host an active-duty associate unit. The 117th Air Refueling Wing in Birmingham, Ala., and the 126th Air Refueling Wing at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., are also projected to have active-duty associates by 2011.
"The idea was, if we started associating an active-duty unit with a Guard or Reserve unit, we get the benefit of their locations," said Col. Ron Langford, 22nd Operations Group commander. "We get the access to fly their air planes that they keep in fantastic shape, and we get the experience that the Guard and Reserve maintainers bring to a young active-duty force."
Aircrew, maintenance and support personnel assigned to the 64th ARS work alongside Guardsmen flying and maintaining the 157th ARW's aircraft to accomplish the wing's refueling missions.
"Our maintainers, our operators, supply personnel, fuel specialists, they can learn so much from the Guard members here, and take that back to the active duty," said Lt. Col. Christopher Colonel Leist, 64th ARS commander who moved from McConnell to lead the squadron. "It's just an amazing opportunity.
"We can no longer do what we used to do. We can't be a separate active-duty Air Force, a separate Air Force Reserve, a separate Guard. We have to be one total-integrated force. That's what are job here is going to be."