Leading the way to Liberty

  • Published
  • By Air Combat Command Public Affairs
  • Air Combat Command Public Affairs
More than 30 Air Force senior leaders, including the commander of Air Combat Command, visited MC-12 students in training at Key Field Air National Guard Base in Meridian, Miss., April 16.

During the visit, leadership got a first-hand look at the efforts of the MC-12 training detachment, which is currently training its first wave of students in academics.

"We just think that leadership taking the time out of their day to come here is ... a major morale booster," said Lt. Col. Brad Wensel, MC-12 squadron operations officer. "It's too bad they can't be here for every class."

Arriving at Meridian with a variety of flight experience, Airmen at the detachment - both students and instructors - volunteered for the MC-12 mission, also known as Project Liberty.

Project Liberty features the Air Force's newest intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform, the MC-12.

The Air Force received the first MC-12 from the manufacturer March 19 and, under an ambitious timeline, the service plans to procure 37 more of the ACC assets to augment unmanned aircraft systems currently flying in U.S. Central Command. The MC-12 mission will rapidly bring capabilities to current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to meet ground-support requirements for today's joint fight.

Once the aircraft arrive at Meridian, Project Liberty students will complete the in-flight portion of MC-12 training through a joint effort between the Air Force and the Air National Guard's 186th Air Refueling Wing, which is based at Key Field.

"The Air National Guard is excited to be a part of this important mission and to play a critical role in providing this needed capability to today's fight," said Gen. Craig R. McKinley, Air National Guard director.

In addition to providing the training location, the 186th also brings more than 12 years of experience to the detachment from flying the RC-26, a manned intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft used in the counterdrug program and other overseas deployments.

After training is complete, the MC-12 graduates are scheduled to deploy in May.
"We are all excited about doing our part for the nation and the Air Force," Colonel Wensel said. "We think this mission itself is going to be extremely gratifying." 

Watch the video