Alaska Air National Guard members deploy to Middle East

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A C-130 Hercules from the Alaska Air National Guard's 144th Airlift Squadron takes off from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, on a previous deployment (File photo: David Kurle/US Air Force.)
A C-130 Hercules from the Alaska Air National Guard’s 144th Airlift Squadron takes off from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, on a previous deployment (File photo: David Kurle/US Air Force.)

More than 100 members of Alaska’s Air National Guard are deploying to the Middle East Tuesday evening. The majority are from the 144 Airlift Squadron within the Guard’s 176th Wing, and will be flying C-130H aircraft as part of intra-theater operations.

“Instead of ferrying materials around the globe in and out of the theater of operation, they’ll be operating within the theater, taking supplies and personnel from point to point,” said Captain John Callahan, chief of public affairs for the 176th Wing.

The Alaska unit is joining with active duty troops and members of the Ohio National Guard in operations combating the ISIL in Iraq and Syria. For security reasons the Guard doesn’t disclose the location of where airmen will be based, and Callahan declined to provide specifics.

National Guard activations are set by rotation.

“The military determines that it needs a certain capability oversees, and it looks at its units and determines who can provide that capacity or that capability,” Callahan said. “In this case it was the Alaska Air National Guard’s turn to provide that.”

This is the 144th Airlift Squad’s sixth deployment in the last ten years. Involvement is expected to last four months.