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Archive for Tuesday, September 17, 2002

National Guard wing begins new mission

September 17, 2002

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— The Kansas Air National Guard's 184th Air Refueling Wing officially assumed its new name and mission Monday, more than a year after learning it would trade its combat mission and B-1 bombers for a support role aboard fuel tankers.

The Pentagon announced earlier this summer it was cutting its B-1 inventory by one-third and consolidating operations at Dyess Air Force Base in Texas and Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota. The reductions meant the loss of aircraft at units in Kansas, Georgia and Idaho.

With its conversion to an air refueling wing, the 184th joins the Air Force's 22nd Air Refueling Wing and the 931st of the Air Force Reserves to create the largest tanker base in the world at McConnell Air Force Base.

The wing traded in its B-1 bombers for 10 KC-135R refueling tankers. In addition to that role, the wing will also assume expanded roles such as military intelligence.

Aboard the inaugural flight, Lt. Col. Brad "Cuff" Link, commander of the 127th Air Refueling Squadron, said this was a big day for them.

"It was a tough year for adjustment, knowing we were going to change," Link said.

Others were simply grateful the wing kept its 590 members.

"Everybody has their job. Nobody lost their job that was the fear at first," said Sgt. Erik Swanson.

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