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Letter from the commander

MUNIZ AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Puerto Rico -- I'm glad to see that we were all fortunate in the near miss from Hurricane Omar this week. The storm suddenly developed from Tropical Depression 15 to a powerful Category 3 type Hurricane, as it passed just east of the U.S. Virgin Islands early Wednesday night through Thursday morning. The potential for Hurricane Omar to cause serious damage to Puerto Rico was very serious due to how quickly it developed and its unpredictable east northeast trajectory that is not the norm in our geographical area. 

As a result of Hurricane Omar; we activated, exercised, and executed our Hurricane Plan; our Installation Command Center; and evacuated two, and diverted one, of our C-130E aircraft Wednesday to McDill Air Force Base, Tampa Fla. to ride out the storm. The aircrews and aircraft redeployed to Puerto Rico Thursday after the Hurricane moved away from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

During the first week of October, we received a series of important visits from several Air Force organizations to our base. The first visit happened during the first week in Oct. were representatives from 1st Air Force, also known as Air Forces North, arrived to conduct a site survey that will open the door to support future Northern Command Combatant Commander (COCOM) Homeland Defense Missions. 

Representatives from Air Force Reserve Headquarters, Air Combat Command's Analysis Division, the National Guard Bureau and 12th Air Force, also known as Air Forces South, visited the 156th Airlift Wing to conduct a complete review of the
Operational Order and a preliminary analysis of our business processes that pertain to CORONET OAK. This visit could result in Wing undergoing a formal AFSO 21 review
process in the near future. 

Our most recent visitor was Lt. Gen. Glenn Spears, Military Deputy Commander, United States Southern Command, who conducted a brief stop at our base Tuesday and met with myself and our Vice Commander, Col. Gilberto Cuevas. During our meeting we were able to brief Lt. Gen. Spears on our Wing's Vision to establish in Puerto Rico a strategic Hub & Spoke for all cargo that the Southern Command moves throughout their Area of Responsibility. This would allow the Wing to receive cargo from anywhere in the United States through military or commercial airlift and maritime transport, and easily preposition and prepare the cargo prior to having our C-130E aircraft transport the cargo to it's final destination in Central or South America. 

We continue to aggressively prepare ourselves for our future ORI 10-16 Dec. 2009. We will execute the Third Phase of our Operational Readiness Training Program Monday
at the Combat Readiness Training Center in Volkfield, Wisconsin. Approximately 60 Airmen will deploy with our Unit Control Centers to exercise our command and control
capabilities, while operating in an Ability to Survive and Operate (ATSO) environment under conventional and chemical attack conditions. 

This coming Wednesday we expect to receive a total of 26 International Air Attaches in support of the Combatant Commanders (COCOMS) and Homeland Security Long Tour 2008. Prior to coming to Puerto Rico, the group will visit the U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Central Command located at McDill Air Force Base in Tampa Fla., followed by a visit to the U.S. Southern Command in Miami and ending the tour in Puerto Rico. The Attaches will be escorted by Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz, Assistant to the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, as they visit our unit and the 141st Air Control
Squadron in Punta Borinquen, Aguadilla.