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Attacking Maintenance in the Maryland Air National Guard

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Chris Schepers
  • 175th Wing

In the A-10 community, the word “attack” is an all-encompassing term that can mean everything from “yes” to “go forth and conquer.”  It captures the warrior spirit, a can-do attitude that views any problem as solvable, and the Air Force core value of excellence in all we do.  In the 175th Wing, the men and women of the 175th Maintenance Group “attack” the job of keeping their jets ready for war.  

Maintainers of the Maryland Air National Guard achieved the third highest mission-capable rate of all A-10, F-15, F-16 and F-22 units in the U.S. Air Force in fiscal year 2022.  Mission-capable rates measure the percentage of time an aircraft is able to perform its designated mission.  Maryland Airmen maintainers achieved a 75.7 percent mission-capable rate, beating out all Air National Guard fighter units and eclipsing the ANG goal by over 5 percent.
 
“I tell our folks not to worry about the numbers,” said U.S. Air Force Col. David Wright, 175th Maintenance Group commander. “What I care about is whether or not we can meet the flying schedule and if the jets are ready to go to war.  If I can say ‘Yes’ to both those questions, I’m happy. However, you can’t help but notice when you see numbers like these.”
 
To help “put it in perspective” Wright said the only two fighter units that had higher mission-capable rates over the past year, were overseas active duty Air Force units, which have a higher priority on spare parts and have three times the full-time manpower and he called Maryland’s metric “impressive.”
 
Since last year, the 175th Maintenance Group demonstrated their ability to launch aircraft both at home and in deployed locations. The largest deployment for the Maryland Air National Guard in 2022 was a temporary duty assignment in Europe supporting two exercises: Swift Response and Defender Europe 22. 
 
Wing operations and logistics, along with maintenance, demonstrated their ability to perform agile combat employment, or ACE, during the exercises. There were split operations from Norway to North Macedonia for the first two weeks and then more split operations from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania as A-10 performed sorties across the Baltics and in Poland with limited personnel and equipment.
 
“Demonstrating the ACE concept is a great opportunity to showcase the adaptability and experience that the Air National Guard brings to the fight,” said Wright. “The Air Force is moving toward this concept, but we have been doing this for years, and we are good at it. A lot of our folks bring diverse skills from their civilian careers, which already makes them multi-capable Airmen.”
 
ACE is a future warfighting concept that exercises decentralized operational decision-making and distributed military operations in austere environments. Principles of ACE focus on mission planning, launching, recovering and maintaining aircraft from a hub-and-spoke arrangement with allies and partners. The idea is to have smaller, mobile teams that are able to deploy and operate in unfamiliar locations.
 
“During Swift Response and Defender everybody pitched in with launching and recovering jets and performing the basics to get the jets ready for daily flight,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Mark Rutt, 175th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander. “Depending on the location we had people with multiple Air Force Specialty Codes and that is why they were selected to go on the trip and demonstrate how our wing employs ACE.” 

The 175th Maintenance Group is preparing for the future by creating teams within the group with multi-capable Airmen.  

“Right now we have four ACE teams formed with Airman who have different AFSCs and different skills,” said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Golabiewski, senior enlisted leader of the 175th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “The next steps are figuring out what training they need to become multi-capable Airman, what equipment will they need, and practicing like it is a real-world scenario.”

In addition to deploying to Europe, the 175th Maintenance Group supported about a dozen TDYs over the past year. They traveled to Las Vegas to support Green Flag West, to Fort Drum for live-fire training, to Boise, Idaho for Hawgsmoke 2022, and to Volk Field in Wisconsin for combat search and rescue training.
 
“When I think back over the past year, I realize that we have amazing people in this organization who care about the mission and want nothing more than to get the job done,” said Wright. “They show up ready to make this unit a little better every day. They attack maintenance.”