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May 5-6, 2006—Air Force Association National President Robert Largent is touring facilities in

Southwest Asia to learn first hand how the work of USAF airmen contributes to the war on terror.

His first stop was the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, which supports varied aircraft—fighter, transport, tanker, and battlefield management—as well as the Combined Air Operations Center, which operates out of a converted metal warehouse and is the focal point for US Central Command Air Forces operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The 379th AEW oversees all base operations, from tent city quarters and security forces to the passenger terminal and personnel functions.

The 379th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron provided Largent an opportunity to participate in the type of on-site training that keeps security forces ready. Among its training devices, the 379th ESFS has a trailer-mounted firing range.

Talking with active, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve Command airmen, Largent found many who were on repeat deployments. They all appeared dedicated and engaged, and, Largent said, they clearly understand their mission. He also noted the presence of many coalition forces—Australia, Britain, Japan, and South Korea.

Among the airmen Largent talked with were two AFA officials: Maryland ANG Maj. Julie Petrina, a C-130J aircraft commander and member of AFA’s board of directors; AFRC Maj. Rob Palmer, a public affairs officer and member of the Air Force/AFA Reserve Council. The AFA national president also met airmen from Eglin AFB, Fla.; F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.; Hickam AFB, Hawaii; Langley AFB, Va.; Little Rock AFB, Ark.; Minot AFB, N.D.; Peterson AFB, Colo.; Randolph AFB, Tex.; Shaw AFB, S.C.; Travis AFB, Calif.; and the Minnesota ANG.

Largent called the operations tempo, “Intense.” He talked with C-130 maintainers, who he said were operating out of tent and plywood facilities and changing engines on the flightline in 115-degree heat and blowing sand, maintaining a high op tempo.