National Guard Bureau Chief comes to Idaho
By Capt Tracy Giles , 124th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 28, 2009
GOWEN FIELD, Boise, Idaho -- Chief of the National Guard Bureau Gen. Craig R. McKinley visited here July 23 and 24 to see Soldiers and Airmen from Idaho, Oregon and Montana in action.
During day one of his jam-packed agenda, General McKinley visited 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team Soldiers in the field as they performed annual training maneuvers in preparation for future deployments.
He flew aboard a Blackhawk helicopter to the Idaho Army National Guard's Orchard Training Area in the desert 20 miles south of Boise. During his visit, the general was able to experience first-hand the unique training opportunities that Idaho's training range offers.
Day two of his visit included a visit to Airmen from both Idaho and Oregon. Idaho Airmen from the 124th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron gave the general a rundown on the Air Force's new A-10 assembly-line maintenance concept being conducted here.
Called the Consolidated Install Program and known locally as the "mod line," some 54 Idaho Airmen are upgrading warfighting capabilities of roughly one third of the Air Force's A-10 fleet. The program is projected to save more than $3 million in manpower costs and 26,000 labor hours during the yearlong program. It is the first time an Air National Guard unit has been tasked to implement a total force initiative in the A-10 community.
"Just seeing the mod line here tells me it was picked because of (the Idaho Air National Guard's) maintenance capabilities," he said. "There's not another ramp in the United States and the Guard that can equate to this kind of capability. It's very impressive."
McKinley also visited members of the Oregon Air Guard's 173rd Fighter Wing who are based here temporarily while their runway in Klamath Falls, Or. undergoes repair.
"I'm constantly amazed at the ingenuity, creativity and adaptability of our Airmen," McKinley said. "They do great work."
Maj. Gen. Larry Lafrenz, Idaho National Guard Commanding General, said it was an honor to have General McKinley come here to visit.
"His visit coincided with the brigade having its annual training. It gave him a real insight on what the Army does and how we train at our training facility here in Boise," Lafrenz said. "The A-10 mod line and the Oregon F-15's we're hosting give the Chief a real good look at what we do here."
Also coinciding with the general's visit was an Employer Bosslift sponsored by the Idaho chapter of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. He was the keynote speaker at a dinner event for more than 200 employers from Idaho and Oregon and during his speech he recognized the work of the Idaho ESGR chapter.
"Idaho is a state that continually puts emphasis on support to employers and education of employers." McKinley said. "People in Idaho are taking care of Guard and Reserve members. You can't put a price on that."