WADS team helps historic Operation Capitol Response mobilization

  • Published
  • By Maj. Kimberly D. Burke, Western Air Defense Sector Public Affairs

Western Air Defense Sector Airmen were able to take their air battle management skills and apply them to helping the Washington National Guard expeditiously embark on a historic mission to Washington D.C. as part of the National Guard’s Operation Capitol Response to support federal and D.C. agencies for the 59th Presidential Inauguration on Jan. 20.

In the course of 72 hours, more than 300 Washington National Guardsmen and 34,000 pounds of cargo were transported to the National Capitol Region by seven KC-135 Stratotanker aircrews from the Washington Air National Guard’s 141st Air Refueling Wing based at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington. In total, more than 400 Washington National Guardsmen were part of the inauguration mission.

Behind-the-scenes coordination turned an idea into a mobilization within a matter of days but planning the airlift was no easy feat.

Air National Guard aircrews were flying thousands of Guardsmen to the National Capitol Region from all parts of the country. The aircraft availability and logistics had to be just right in order for the WA ANG to meet their one hour time slot for transporting Washington Guardsmen and the aircraft had to have enough fuel onboard to ensure they could take off again without having to refuel at the base.

Col. Brian Bergren, 225th Air Defense Squadron commander and the WA ANG liaison officer to the Washington National Guard’s Joint Operations Center, brought a team of nine highly skilled WADS Airmen to the Joint Operations Center in order to tackle this historic mobilization.

His team is no stranger to being under time sensitive pressure and solving problems quickly which is evident in mission planning presidential temporary flight restrictions or scrambling alert aircraft to intercept the stolen Horizon Air Q400 aircraft on Aug. 10, 2018. 

“Figuring out how to get 400 people across the country, is a complex task but you can do anything with a skilled team and breaking the tasks down into manageable parts and then finding the experts in the room who can best get after those parts,” Bergren said.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the WADS team that helped make the largest Guard airlift in U.S. history successful,” commented Col. Raed D. Gyekis, 225th Air Defense Group commander. 

Bergren’s team consisted of Lt. Col. Kip Trausch, Lt. Col. Aaron Meyer, Master Sgt. Chad Warren, Master Sgt. Christopher Pavel, Master Sgt. Christopher Doran, Master Sgt. Brian Culp, Master Sgt. Joseph Carey, Tech. Sgt. Zachary Geroux, and Tech. Sgt. Zachary Smith.

Since March 2020, the Washington Air National Guard has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with food bank and testing support, civil disturbance missions, election security, employment insurance assistance, wildland fire crews, and COVID vaccination and now inauguration support.