AZ Air Guard trains with 48th Fighter Wing in United Kingdom

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Tinashe Machona
  • 161st Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Several Airmen from the 161st Air Refueling Wing at Goldwater Air National Guard Base, Phoenix, conduct an overseas training mission with the 48thFighter Wing at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, May 21 to June 8.   

The 15-day training mission is an annual requirement for the Arizona Air National Guard unit, however, training overseas with an active duty unit was a unique and opportunity. The Copperhead team from the 161st ARW supported the 48th FW, known as Liberty Wing at RAF Lakenheath, during its fast-paced F-15 fighter mission in Europe to provide worldwide responsive combat airpower and support.

It took a dedicated team from the ANG and 48th FW to make this happen. Lt. Col. Michael Mansfield, the 161st Communications Flight Commander, was the Mission Support Group Detachment Commander for this assignment and organized this training opportunity. Mansfield’s team consisted of multiple squadrons from the 161st including communications, civil engineering, finance management, public affairs, logistics readiness, and the force support squadron. 

“Our Airmen fully integrated with Team Liberty to accomplish numerous training objectives and projects,” said Mansfield.  “The 48th Fighter Wing has a fantastic group of motivated Airmen and civilians, who astounded our teams with their level of proficiency and professionalism in all areas.” 

Leading this 66-member team of AZ Airmen took months of planning, organizing, and strategizing. Mansfield stated that this event would not have been successful without 161st enlisted leadership stepping up in each squadron. 

“Our Air Force works only when we allow enlisted leaders to lead their Airmen,” Mansfield said. “The cohesion and solidarity built between the 161st ARW and 48th FW, ensured every one of our Airmen had the flexibility to lead their teams and successfully integrate, benefiting both units in a very big way.”

Chief Master Sgt. Jeremy Holt, the 161st Logistics Readiness Squadron Superintendent and the Mission Support Group Senior Enlisted Leader for this training, expressed how much of a privilege it was to train with Liberty Wing.

“The integration enhanced the readiness of our Airmen and sharpens their skills so that they perform their jobs at optimum levels for home station and the United States Air Force overall,” said Holt. “This training has been a huge benefit for the Airmen and leadership of the ANG. There couldn’t have been better training for our Airmen who continue to deploy and support the Air Force mission and we strive to make every mission and training opportunity count.” 

Integrating training with the only F-15 fighter wing in U.S. Air Forces in Europe, RAF Lakenheath brings unique air combat capabilities to the fight and the young Airmen took great pride in their tasks. 

“The temporary duty here enables me to see how active duty completes the job in a high-paced environment, which in-turn allows me, and my fellow guardsmen, to learn concepts we can expand on at our home station during drill weekends,” said Airman 1st Class Erik Swanberg, 161st ARW Aerial Port Air Transportation. “The training of swiftly loading material onto aircraft in a timely manner was essential for mission readiness.” 

Last month our Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General David L. Goldfein, stated that "Morale and readiness are inextricably linked…Where readiness is highest, morale is highest."  Mansfield said the members of the 161st ARW are tremendously grateful for Team Liberty’s teamwork, cohesiveness, and Total Force mindset, which has contributed greatly to the overall readiness and morale of the Copperhead Team.