by Arlo Taylor
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Little Rock Air Force Base will continue to be the center of C-130 Total Force training for years to come as a result of a fore structure realignment announced by the Air Force May 11.
As a result, Little Rock’s C-130 training mission will reflect the Total Force Integration environment employed and deployed in C-130 operational missions around the world.
The move means the 189th Airlift Wing will take over legacy C-130 training, and it will be assisted by an Air Force Reserve Command associate unit. Air Force Reserve Command will provide manpower and 10 aircraft to establish a C-130H2 Formal Training Unit, starting this fall. Air National Guard units from around the United States will loan another eight C-130H2 aircraft to the unit. All of the aircraft are expected to be at Little Rock by the fall of 2011.
“We have had Total Force training at Little Rock for more than two decades with the 314th and 189th Airlift Wings and after these changes, we’re still going to have Total Force training centered on the 314th and 189th, said Col. C.K. Hyde, 314th Airlift Wing commander. “C-130 training is not moving. The training will still be done at Little Rock Air Force Base and will start in the 314th Airlift Wing’s C-130 Center of Excellence with academics, device and weapons system trainers.”
The 189th Airlift Wing will be the lead legacy C-130 training unit as a result of the announcement. Gaining of this important mission is a testament to the entire Team Little Rock community -- active duty, Guard, Reserve and the civilian community, said Col. Jim Summers, 189th Airlift Wing commander.
“It is a very important mission for the 189th. It is important because we share the same mission as our active-duty counterparts,” he said. “This base is known as the C-130 Center of Excellence because of the training mission and that reputation exists only because all three Wings on this base are truly partners. Everyone on this base, military and civilian, works to provide combatant commanders with the best C-130 combat airlift crews in the world.
“You can’t talk partnership and omit our community council and civilian supporters. The fact that that our community council was awarded the Abilene Trophy (which will be presented on June 15) speaks volumes,” Colonel Summers said. “The support they provide the military and this base has truly made LRAFB the Center of Excellence for C-130 Combat Airlift.”
The move also acknowledges the quality of the people who make the 189th AW mission happen.
“It recognizes the fact that we have recruited and retained a lot of very capable, talented and experienced individuals who are just as dedicated to mission success and Air Force core values as our active duty counterparts,” Colonel Summers said.
The Total Force Integration proposal would shift legacy training from the 62nd Airlift Squadron to the Reserve Component, retire 25 active-duty E-model C-130s and bring 18 loaner legacy C-130s from Air National Guard and Reserve units in to meet the Air Force’s Total Force training needs.
Today’s teamwork will be crucial to continued mission success during the transition of the legacy C-130 FTU program, Colonel Summers said.
Future training will reflect the composition of programmed C-130 force structure. The active duty will operate the preponderance of C-130 J-model aircraft and will conduct J-model training in the 314 AW. The Reserve component will operate most of the legacy and Avionics Modernization Program C-130s and will conduct legacy training. During the transition period, there will be a gradual hand off of legacy training from the 314th Airlift Wing to the 189th Airlift Wing and their Reserve partners. “A gradual phased hand off will provide stability, and if done right, it will be totally transparent to our students and their gaining commands” said Colonel Summers.
The phased transition from FY 2011 to FY 2014 will yield a legacy school house centered on the 189th Airlift Wing with an Air Force Reserve Command associate unit. The 314th Airlift Wing’s active duty cadre will provide Air Force, DoD and international C-130J training. The wing will also continue its oversight of students and the C-130 Center of Excellence including the ATS and JMATS contracts through its 714th Training Squadron.
As the transition proceeds, 62nd Airlift Squadron mission will gradually reduce. In fiscal 2011, the remaining 17 of the squadron’s E-model aircraft are slated be retired. Squadron personnel will continue to train through fiscal 2014. Personnel changes will be phased in a gradual transition, managed by the normal assignment process.
“The active-duty personnel positions aren’t being cut. They will be used in other active C-130 units,” said Colonel Hyde. “The
Air Force will use that manpower to help operational and training units cope with high ops tempos and emerging requirements.
“Active- duty members from the 62nd will still be involved in the legacy training mission to ensure the transition goes smoothly and make certain the formal training methodology, processes and structure are transferred seamlessly to the reserve component,” Colonel Hyde said.
Little Rock’s Total Force partnership is an extension of how the base builds, employs and deploys C-130 Combat Airlifters.
“You don’t build FTU’s and partnerships overnight. When you have been in the C-130 training business for as long as Little Rock Air Force Base personnel, you recognize where changes can be made for efficiency or more importantly where change will produce better combat airlifters,” Colonel Summers said. “Colonel Hyde and I know that if a student graduates from the 314th or the 189th, he or she has received the best training possible under the same strict standards of any AETC flying training unit.”
Officials project the recapitalization move to save $256 million in modification and operations costs while maintaining a large enough fleet to meet current and forecasted requirements. It also allows the Air Force to retire a portion of its oldest C-130Hs to avoid future required modifications and increasingly costly sustainment, as well as accelerate the planned retirement of C-130Es, whose average age is 46.0 years.
The changes are influenced by the recently released Mobility Capabilities and Requirements Study 2016 that showed the Air Force possessing more tactical airlift aircraft than required. The Air Force’s FY2011 budget proposal, which initially called for a permanent shift of the Reserve Component C-130s, drew fire from legislators from the states of affected units who voiced concerns regarding the concept that will shift Air National Guard and Reserve C-130s to Little Rock. As a result of an alternative brought forward by the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve during this review, and with Department of Defense concurrence, the Air Force will maintain the 18 C-130’s in the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve.
“We have consulted extensively with the Adjutant Generals of the states providing the loaned aircraft in the development of this plan. Over time, as new C-130Js continue to enter the fleet, the legacy C-130 training requirements will decrease; this will allow C-130s from the Reserve Component to return to their home units,” said Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley. “This is an acceleration of a concept that has been envisioned for some time.
“We will continue to analyze the allocation of tactical airlift force structure between the Active and Reserve Components to ensure we have the best allocation of assets to meet the nation’s war fighting requirements and to meet the needs of the states,” the secretary said.
The concept aims to improve the balance between the operational requirements stated in MCRS 16, the mission needs of the states, and the formal training gap created by recapitalizing the service’s legacy C-130 fleet. This approach will allow the Reserve components, which maintain approximately 67 percent of the C-130 force structure, to perform a larger role in C-130 schoolhouse training, while providing the opportunity to retire older model C-130s and reallocate active-duty end strength from the C-130 schoolhouse to meet other emerging personnel requirements, according to officials.