Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

One command post initiative extended to aerial firefighting mission

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- A 302nd Airlift Wing C-130 aircraft, equipped with the U.S. Forest Service Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System, taxis here in preparation to conduct an aerial fire fighting mission over Coahuila, Mexico. Two C-130s, deployed by U.S. Northern Command at the request of the Mexican government, dropped thousands of gallons of fire suppressant on the wildfires that have burned more than 245,000 acres in Coahuila. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Blake Mize)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- A 302nd Airlift Wing C-130 aircraft, equipped with the U.S. Forest Service Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System, taxis here in preparation to conduct an aerial fire fighting mission over Coahuila, Mexico. Two C-130s, deployed by U.S. Northern Command at the request of the Mexican government, dropped thousands of gallons of fire suppressant on the wildfires that have burned more than 245,000 acres in Coahuila. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Blake Mize)

by Air Expeditionary Group Command and Control Center

GOWEN FIELD BOISE, Idaho  — For the first time in recent history, an active duty and Air Force Reserve combined command post is providing command and control support for the 302nd Air Expeditionary Group’s Modular Airborne Firefighting operations at Gowen Field in Boise, Idaho.

In an effort to further solidify and gain experience using the “One Command Post, Total Force Initiative” concept, Senior Master Sgt. Paul LaFleur, 302nd Airlift Wing superintendent, and Tech. Sgt. Maria Calderon, 21st Space Wing command post, have deployed to Boise, Idaho.

Sergeant Calderon is the first active duty controller in recent history to deploy in support of the MAFFS mission, which in the past was supported by Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command personnel.

Recent wildfires in central Texas and Mexico prompted requests for assistance and the deployment of MAFFS C-130s from the Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Airlift Wing and the Air National Guard’s, 146th, 145th and 153rd Airlift Wings in support of Air Force Northern Command, National Interagency Fire Center and the U.S. Forest Service.

The concept of operations for the MAFFS AEG is to provide a central location to support all forward deployed MAFFS aircraft, personnel and equipment or Expeditionary Air Squadrons. Flight following, personnel tracking, crew authorizations audits, logging aircraft dispatch requests, maintenance requests and situation reporting to higher headquarters are all handled at the AEG level.

Senior Master Sgt. Donna Eldredge of the Air National Guard’s 145th AW, Master Sgt. Kelly McClintock and Staff Sgt. Jeremy Blunt both of the 146th AW, round out the AEG operations team.

Also, for the first time this year, within the combined command post concept is the addition of Global Decision Support System flight following software to mission manage and track all MAFFS aircraft sorties. This has presented a unique opportunity for both Sergeants LaFleur and Calderon to create effective processes for data collection and benchmark operations for future deployments of the MAFFS personnel and aircraft.

In addition to the MAFFS Texas deployment, the AEG is also responsible for the annual training and certification of all MAFFS personnel which will take place at Gowen Field during the first week of May.

Now, with acquiring the experience of developing processes for the actual MAFFS activation missions in Mexico and Texas which occurred before the annual MAFFS certification, Sergeants LaFleur and Calderon had the opportunity to gain valuable experiences which they will incorporate into the certification training for future EAS and AEG operators.

The combined command post controllers see the MAFFS mission as a unique opportunity and rare chance for controllers to directly impact the lives of those they have sworn to protect.

“This experience has opened my eyes to the impact I have on the mission as an individual,” said Sergeant Calderon.

Future deployment plans include extending this opportunity to all Peterson AFB controllers to help develop their skill set and expand their strategic world view.

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