Kentucky Air National Guard unit deploys to support Haitian relief effort
By Lt Col Kirk Hilbrecht, Kentucky National Guard
/ Published January 22, 2010
KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The Kentucky Air National Guard deployed three C-130 aircraft and approximately 45 members of its 123rd Contingency Readiness Group today in support of Operation Unified Response, the humanitarian relief operation in Haiti.
Described as an "airbase in a box," the 123rd CRG has all the personnel, training and equipment needed to deploy to a remote site, open a runway and establish airfield operations so that aid or troops can begin to flow into affected areas.
"This is exactly the type of mission we train for," said Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, adjutant general for Kentucky. "The 123rd CRG possesses the capabilities needed to bring relief to the people of Haiti. We have the right people and the right resources to do what must be done."
The Kentucky Airmen began departing from the Kentucky Air National Guard Base at 6 a.m. Their mission is to establish an airbase in the Dominican Republic to manage air traffic in support of the relief effort. The Kentucky Air Guard C-130s also will fly logistical support missions into Haiti as needed.
"We will be the first National Guard unit supporting this mission," said Col. Greg Nelson, commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, the 123rd CRG's parent unit.
The Contingency Response Group provides a broad spectrum of specialties, including airfield command and control, security, and ramp and cargo operations.
"This isn't the first dance these Airmen have attended," Colonel Nelson said. "Most of them have operational experience from multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as from stateside operations in support of relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina and during last year's ice storm in Western Kentucky."
The 123rd Airlift Wing has a unique combination of capabilities that allow it to immediately open an airfield for mass airlift operations, provide search-and-rescue functions and offer expeditionary medical support. Only the Kentucky Air National Guard houses all these capabilities in one location along with the C-130 aircraft necessary for delivery.
The Kentucky National Guard also mobilized three Airmen on Saturday to support humanitarian relief operations in Haiti, and a C-130 Hercules air transport was dispatched Thursday to perform an airdrop resupply mission.