Mass Tap of Air Guard Prime BEEF

The Air National Guard is involuntarily mobilizing hundreds of civil engineer airmen for deployments to Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan during the next 24 months, according to a March 11 National Guard Bureau release. According to Col. John Elwood at the ANG Readiness Center, units will deploy through 2009 and notices are going out for those to be tapped in 2010. The Prime BEEF (Base Engineer Emergency Force) units are needed to help US and coalition forces take down facilities and set up new ones, as the war on terror shifts. Members of Air Guard Prime BEEF units have voluntarily deployed as individuals or in small groups, but this marks the first time for an involuntary call up of his entire squadron, per Lt. Col. Paul Novello, commander of the New Jersey Air Guard’s 108th Civil Engineer Squadron. Upon receiving the news, Novello said, “Overall, everybody took it very well.” However, taking the entire 108th CES has raised questions about who will maintain the infrastructure for the 108th Air Refueling Wing at McGuire Air Force Base. Novello said, “That’s a problem we are addressing.” The Air Guard also is adding at least half of its eight RED HORSE rapid construction units into the 2009-10 mix, but these smaller CE squadrons generally deploy as a whole. (NGB report by MSgt. Mike Smith)