PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.H. --
Pease Air National Guard base hosted the third KC-46A Site Activation Task Force visit from July 10-12, 2018.
Members of the Air National Guard and active-duty Air Force came together for a three-day workshop to further preparations for the arrival of the KC-46A Pegasus, the new refueling aircraft, which is scheduled to arrive in August of 2019.
Capt. Joseph A Smith III, a KC-46A program integration officer assigned to the 157th Air Refueling Wing Headquarters, described the significance of the visit.
“We have people coming in from all over, including the National Guard Bureau, Air Mobility Command, Boeing, Altus, McConnell Air Force Base and the Special Programs office at Wright-Patterson,” said Smith. “This is the only time we can have this type of cross-talk and accomplish so much because we have all the key decision makers in one room."
On day one of the visit, participants attended an introductory briefing led by the 157th ARW before breaking out into their respective groups to begin work.
Focus groups included the Mission Support Group, Operations, Maintenance, Communications, Facilities, Logistical Readiness, Security Forces, Intelligence and Manpower. Each group plays a key role in the KC-46 conversion process.
“Since Pease won the bid for the KC-46A several years ago, everyone involved in preparing for it has been going through this huge learning process,” said Smith. “We are one of the first to receive this aircraft, so for everything from equipment and manning needs to the training of our personnel, we are setting the standards which will be used throughout the Air Force.”
Planning meetings continued through day two and then again on day three.
The Executive Director of the Air National Guard, Daniel E. Bishop, toured Pease and took part in discussions during the final day.
In the morning, he attended a base-wide meeting at which he and Brig. Gen. David J. Mikolaities, the adjutant general of the New Hampshire National Guard, praised members of the Wing and their active-duty counterparts from the 64th Air Refueling Squadron for their high levels of operational readiness and retention. Bishop coined the following airmen for their contributions:
Staff Sgt. Kayla McWalter, production recruiter/retainer, 157th Force Support Squadron
Tech. Sgt. Eric Low, bio-mechanical engineering/equipment technician, 157th Medical Group Detachment 1
Tech. Sgt. Andrew Morrison, maintenance training manager, 157th Maintenance Squadron
Tech. Sgt. John Raymond, intelligence analyst/GIS specialist, New Hampshire Joint Force Headquarters
Senior Master Sgt. George Gibson, quality assurance superintendent, 260th Air Traffic Control Squadron
The final event of the visit was an out-briefing during which a representative from each working group stood in front of an auditorium and described to key leaders, including Bishop and Col. John W. Pogorek, the 157th ARW commander, what they have accomplished so far and what they believe they have left to do in order to be ready for the KC-46A.
Bishop addressed attendees after everyone else had spoken.
He emphasized the importance of honest, candid evaluations when it comes to what the groups think they need in order to successfully bed down the new aircraft.
“Please don’t give us a negotiated position from where you’re standing,” said Bishop. “Give us the input of what the warfighter really needs, so we have the latitude and flexibility to provide it.”
Bishop then praised participants for their efforts.
“What you all have done here is excellent, you’re trailblazing,” he said.