Idaho Guard A-10s Deploy for Operations in Middle East, Africa

A-10s and about 400 Airmen with the Idaho Air National Guard’s 124th Fighter Wing recently deployed to the Middle East for ongoing operations there, and to serve as a quick reaction force if needed in Africa.

The deployment is the wing’s second-largest movement ever, including pilots, security forces, maintainers, medical personnel, special warfare tactical air control party, and other support staff deployed to an undisclosed location for Operations Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria, Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan, and New Normal—a U.S. Africa Command mission created after the 2012 attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, according to a June 1 wing release. The deployment was complicated by stop movement orders and other restrictions put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve been training for this for years, we just didn’t know that it would come all at once where we’re called to a scheduled deployment and then faced with overcoming a pandemic,” wing Commander Col. Shannon Smith said in the release. “I’m incredibly proud of this organization, and I’m proud of this state.”

Airmen began leaving their home base of Gowen Field on May 11, along with 254 short tons of cargo, in four commercial Boeing 747s and three USAF C-5s.

The wing’s largest deployment took place in 2016 to the Middle East in support of operations against the Islamic State group, KMVT reported.