Puerto Rico Air National Guard’s (ANG) 156th Airlift Wing has transitioned to newly assigned contingency response and combat communications missions.
The US Air Force noted that the missions are in line with the requirements of the National Defense Strategy.
As a result of the transition, the 156th Airlift Wing received a new name, the 156th Wing, and is now expected to expand by 18 airmen, including four full-time positions.
Air National Guard director lieutenant general Scott Rice said: “The new contingency response and combat communications missions are strategically aligned and capitalise on the unique capabilities, experiences and professionalism of Puerto Rico’s airmen.
“The missions also provide Puerto Rico’s territorial leadership tremendous resources for territorial emergency response.”
Contingency response missions involve the rapid deployment of specialised units to quickly establish air mobility operations.
The airforce added that combat communications require forces to provide voice and data capability to units performing overseas and local response operations.
Increasing the size of the wing and boosting existing capabilities will help enhance the Puerto Rico ANG’s ability to support global operations and assist territorial agencies that provide emergency response services.
Rice added: “The 156th (Wing) will be the first ANG wing with this particular combination of missions, and it joins a well-established contingency response and combat communications enterprise that already exists within the Air National Guard.
“The airforce and the Air National Guard are capitalising on the expertise of (Puerto Rico ANG) Airmen and Puerto Rico’s strategic location to support federal and territorial mission requests.”
The transition involves a 36-month conversion period to reach full operational capabilities. During this period, the unit will be supported by the Air National Guard.