More than 300 members of Fort Wayne’s Air National Guard base will head to the Mideast for six months beginning in October.
They are not specifically being sent as part of President Barack Obama’s plan to launch an air war against the militant Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. But it sounds as if they could end up taking part.
“This deployment has actually been in the works for over a year now, so it’s not related to that,” 2nd Lt. Christopher Myers, public affairs officer for the 122nd Fighter Wing, said Wednesday afternoon in a telephone interview.
“Now when they get over there, it remains to be seen what will take place. But we are in a support role,” Myers said.
Airmen will be assigned to the U.S. Central Command, which has several bases in Mideastern nations and has deployed forces to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001.
The 122nd Fighter Wing will send 303 airmen, nicknamed Blacksnakes, and the Terre Haute Air Guard base will send five as part of the mission. Their deployment is for six months . . .
“I don’t know of a time in Blacksnake history we have taken this kind of aviation footprint forward,” Col. Patrick Renwick, the new commander of the 122nd Fighter Wing, said in a statement. “The A-10 ‘Warthog’ is uniquely suited for the Combatant Commander’s needs, and the Blacksnakes are the right team to bring that capability to combat.”
A-10s generally are used to support ground combat troops. Obama has stressed that he will send no Americans to fight Islamic State forces on the ground but expects U.S. allies to do so.
“We are available for whatever mission the commander in chief really needs us for,” Myers said about the fighter wing deployment. “So time will tell. But our airmen are always ready and prepared.” . . .