By Staff Sgt. Peter Dean, 107th Airlift Wing
/ Published March 31, 2010
Niagara Falls -- On March 25 more than 35 Niagara and Erie county bosses boarded one of Team Niagara's C-130 bound for MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Fla. The bosses were part of an Employer Support of Guard and Reserve sponsored trip designed to educate the employers the vital role that Guardsmen and Reservists play in today's military. Team Niagara consists of the New York Air National Guard's 107th Airlift Wing and the Air Force Reserve's 914th Airlift Wing. As a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Committee the two collocated wings are now associated, working together flying and maintaining the same air frames.
For two employers of five local Tim Hortons, it was apparent that this was an experience they would soon not forget.
"This is great, can't believe I'm on a C-130," said Robert Burns who is the CEO of Tim Hortons. "To see firsthand what you guys do is incredible," he added.
The Bosses left Niagara at the crack of dawn for the three and a half hour flight that placed them in the heart of the 927th Air Refueling Wing, Tampa, Fla. Shortly after touchdown, staff from MacDill AFB escorted the group on tour through a KC-135 Air Refueler. Employers had the opportunity to inspect the interior and exterior of the airframe. They sat in the cockpit, entered the boom pod and asked air crew technical questions on the in air refueling capabilities of the aircraft.
"Man this plane is awesome," said Jared Burns, Vice President of Operations for five local Tim Hortons. "Did you see me in the cockpit? That was so cool, I want to be a pilot," he added.
After all questions and comments were addressed the group was then shuttled to on base housing where they had a couple hours free time to unpack, unwind and absorb the wealth of Knowledge they had just acquired. Shortly thereafter the group boarded a coach and was transported off base to a local restaurant where ESGR treated the employers to a dinner that included choice of steak, chicken or fish.
"Wow you guys really know how to treat us," said Robert Geiger board member of the Clarence Chamber of Commerce. "So far this has been an outstanding trip, can't wait to see what tomorrow has in store for us," he added.
The following day after a buffet style breakfast overlooking the water's edge, the first stop was to The United States Special Operations Command located on MacDill AFB, where the employers received a behind the scenes look at the daily working operations of the USSOC. The United States Special Operations Command is the Unified Combatant Command charged with overseeing the various Special Operations Commands of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps of the United States Armed Forces.
The idea of a unified special operations command had its origins in the aftermath of Operation Eagle Claw, the disastrous attempted rescue of hostages at the American embassy in Iran in 1980. The ensuing investigation, chaired by Admiral James L. Holloway III, the retired Chief of Naval Operations, cited lack of command and control and inter-service coordination as significant factors in the failure of the mission. Since its activation on April 16, 1987, U.S. Special Operations Command has participated in many operations, from the 1989 invasion of Panama to the ongoing Iraq War.
USSOCOM conducts several covert and clandestine missions, such as unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, psychological operations, Civil Affairs, direct action, counter-terrorism and War on Drugs operations. USSOCOM's global performance in combat and noncombat areas has proven the value of a mature, culturally attuned, properly equipped, and adaptive Special Operations Force. Each branch has a Special Operations Command that is unique and capable of running its own operations, but when the different Special Operations Forces need to work together for an operation, USSOCOM becomes the joint component command of the operation, instead of a SOC of a specific branch.
"This is an amazing operation," said Colby Smith Senior Vice President of The McGuire Group. "I now have a better understanding on what's involved in a special ops operation, I have a lot of respect for you guy's" he added.
The last stop on the two-day ESGR tour was to The United States Central Command which is also located at MacDill AFB. USCENTCOM is a theater-level Unified Combatant Command unit of the U.S. armed forces, established in 1983 under the operational control of the U.S. Secretary of Defense. It was originally conceived of as the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force .
Its area of responsibility is in the Middle East, including Egypt, and Central Asia. CENTCOM has been the main American presence in many military operations, including the Gulf War, the United States war in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War. Forces from CENTCOM currently are deployed primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan in combat roles and have bases in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Pakistan, and central Asia in support roles. CENTCOM forces have also been deployed in Jordan, and Saudi Arabia in the past, although no substantial forces are based in those countries as of 2009.
On April 23, 2008, General David Petraeus was chosen by President George W. Bush to become the CENTCOM commander. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on July 10, 2008 and assumed command on October 31, 2008.
Of the six American regional unified commands, CENTCOM is one of three regional unified commands whose headquarters are not within its area of operations. CENTCOM's main headquarters is located at MacDill Air Force Base, in Tampa, Florida, although a forward headquarters has also been established since 2002 at Camp As Sayliyah in Doha, Qatar to serve American strategic interests of the Iraq region. The other regional unified commands with headquarters located outside their areas of operations are United States Southern Command , currently based in Miami, Florida, and United States Africa Command currently based in Stuttgart, Germany.
CENTCOM's visit completed this year's ESGR trip; from there the group boarded the C-130 for the flight back to The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.
"Thank you all for your dedication to duty and country, without your commitment we would not have the greatest country in world," said David Gendron Vice President of Operations for CSI Inc. He was referring to all that wear or have worn the uniform of any branch of the U.S. Military.