Business efforts strengthen airpower and relationships

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Amanda Hacman
  • 507th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – An aircrew from the 507th Air Refueling Wing here combined resources with fellow reservists from 482nd Fighter Wing at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida, to conduct a business effort refueling training mission within central Florida’s airspace Jan. 25-29.

Business effort training missions ensure aircrew from multiple platforms receive necessary upgrade and competency training required to remain mission capable. The 507th ARW Okies and the 482nd FW Makos successfully performed a multitude of refueling sorties designed to increase their combat readiness capabilities.

Refueling took place over Avon Park Air Force Range, a 106,000-acre area that provides the Makos with access to target bombing training. Since World War II, Avon Park has hosted training missions for enemy target missiles, law enforcement emergency driving skills and combat search and rescue.

KC-135R Stratotanker aircrews are trained to conduct in-flight refueling operations for strategic bombers, reconnaissance aircraft, airlift and fighter aircraft, as directed by the Department of Defense, anytime and anywhere. Successful execution strengthens U.S. military operations and national objectives.

Chief Master Sgt. Steven Robinson, 465th Air Refueling Squadron chief in-flight refueling specialist, said business efforts are the foundation of a versatile unit, providing opportunities for crewmembers to interact outside of the day-to-day management of flight operations.

“Confidence becomes the basis for how a unit like the Okies separates itself from other units,” said Robinson. “Each member in operations and maintenance has a critical role in building and mentoring future aircraft commanders and ensuring the right decisions are made and ultimately, that the mission is accomplished.”

Robinson has more than 30 years of experience on the KC-135 and is responsible for the training, upgrading and certification of 18 in-flight refueling technicians, or boom operators.

Lt. Col. Jeffrey Milburn, 507th Operations Support Squadron director of operations, said working with other Reserve units solidifies the Air Force Reserve’s ability to provide combat ready air power at a moment's notice.

“Planning a business effort with another unit not only provides training for both aircrews, but also gives us a chance to work with a unit we may not work with very often,” said Milburn, a command pilot with more than 20 years of experience flying KC-135 refueling missions. “That way, when we deploy, we are ready for anything.”

Col. Adam Meyers, 482nd FW vice commander, said the Air Force is the envy of our counterparts worldwide because of our unique ability to come together as a system that makes us the premier airpower.

“In my 25 years of flying the F-16, I can count on one hand the number of combat sorties I’ve flown that didn’t somehow involve aerial-refueling,” said Meyers, who assists with leading over 2,500 Airmen, while seamlessly integrating 11 tenant units as vice commander of a reserve host installation. “You just don’t go to war without the whole team.”

“For this particular training cycle, having a dedicated KC-135 from the Okies took every F-16 sortie for us, and effectively turned it into two or three,” Meyers said. “That’s literally doubling or tripling the training not only our pilots are getting each time as they prepare to deploy, but also the ground forces that were here for Close Air Support training.”

Meyers, a command pilot with more than 3,000 hours and 400 combat hours in the F-16 Fighting Falcon, said that training with the 507th was integral to squeezing the most of out of each mission, ensuring each both units kept up necessary qualifications and highlighted the capabilities of Reserve combat air power.

Meyers’ perspective as the 482nd FW vice commander was unique as he flew a sortie with the Okies.

“We’ve got a long relationship with the Okies,” said Meyers. “I can recall specific conversations I’ve had with some of their boom operators over Afghanistan. That, and given the opportunity to work with fellow Reservists, why would the best not work with the best?”