Tankers Away

A contingent of more than 100 airmen and four KC-135s from the 22nd Airlift Wing at McConnell AFB, Kan., participated in a first-of-its-kind forward-deployment drill during a nuclear operational readiness exercise. These assets moved to Grand Forks AFB, N.D., for four days earlier this month to see how well they could support the B-52H bombers there tasked with executing the nuclear mission. “Because of limited resources in the past, we just didn’t take the time and resources to [forward deploy],” said Lt. Col. Scott Thatcher, commander of McConnell’s 350th Air Refueling Squadron. He continued, “[N]ow that we’re refocusing and reinvigorating the nuclear enterprise, we think it’s important to exercise it and be ready if we’re tasked with a mission.” In addition to aircrew and maintainers, the wing sent some of its security forces, supply personnel, and petroleum and lubricant specialists to Grand Forks. (McConnell report by SrA. Abigail Klein)