28th Bomb Wing Airmen return from Air Force Generation deployment

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Josephine Pepin
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Members from the 28th Bomb Wing recently returned from a deployment in U.S. Air Force Central Command’s area of responsibility as part of the Air Force Generation (AFFORGEN) deployment construct.

Ellsworth paved the way as a lead wing, tackling logistical and operational challenges from two ends of the world and reinforcing the U.S. presence for its allies during a time of unrest and conflict in the region.

“We encountered a dynamic operational environment from the outset of the deployment, and I am proud of how our cross-functional team stepped up to the challenge,” said Col. Joshua Wiitala, 28th Bomb Wing deputy commander and 332nd Expeditionary Air Base Group commander. “As lead wing, our role was to support ongoing operations while building capacity in support of US objectives for the region and our Airmen did a great job adapting to a variety of new mission-sets.”

The deployment was the first of its kind under the new AFFORGEN model recently implemented in the Air Force and represents the first change to the service’s deployment strategy in 20 years. AFFORGEN establishes a 24-month rotation cycle broken into four, six-month phases: Prepare, Certify, Available, and Reset. Airmen and units build readiness through the prepare and certify phases, deploy during the available phase, and reintegrate and reconstitute during the reset phase.

A key strength of the new system is how it strengthens unit culture for deployers. Under the previous system, Airmen received deployment orders in small batches from across the Air Force. As a result, most deployers would not meet their co-workers until they were already in theater. With this new model, larger swaths of Airmen are sent together from the same units and bases. Their teamwork and rapport are already established, making integration into the expeditionary environment much smoother.

“Our team hit the ground running when we deployed and that momentum continued when we returned home,” Lt Col. Bergman, 28th Bomb Wing director of staff and 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing chief of staff. “Integrating back into home units can be tough, but when you deploy with your team, the support, comradery and shared experiences return with you.”

For Ellsworth, this new model also meant exercises usually accomplished at home base could be performed in real-time at austere locations on top of typical deployment operations. This dynamic offered unique training opportunities to Ellsworth Airmen that further strengthened the wing’s expeditionary capabilities.

“Our Raider Airmen did a remarkable job supporting the new AFFORGEN model and successfully executing complex operations from both home station and in the deployed environment,” said Col. Derek Oakley, 28th Bomb Wing commander. “Their experiences and accomplishments will serve as an important guide as AFFORGEN continues to evolve.”