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Air National Guard supports coalition operations over Libya

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ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) -- The Air National Guard is contributing to Operation Odyssey Dawn with Airmen from 11 air refueling wings supporting the international coalition enforcement of a United Nations authorized no-fly zone, National Guard officials said March 22 here.

Aircraft and crews from Alaska, Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Utah are scheduled to conduct mid-air refueling missions for coalition forces who have been launching strikes against Libyan military sites and air defense systems to prevent further attacks against Libyan civilians.

Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, the director of the Air National Guard, said he wasn't surprised that the Air Force turned to the Air Guard to provide refueling support to the coalition.

"The Air Guard has the experience and expertise to quickly mobilize, deploy and integrate with any joint or coalition effort anywhere in the world," Wyatt said. "The fact that we are able to rapidly bring in assets from several different wings is a testament to the flexibility and professionalism our citizen Airmen provide our combatant commanders when called."

In a briefing with reporters, Army Gen. Carter Ham, the commander of U.S. Africa Command, discussed ongoing operations in his area of operations so far.

"I assess that our actions to date are generally achieving the intended objectives," he said. "We have not observed Libyan military aircraft operating since the beginning of coalition military operations."

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said what is important to President Barack Obama in the ongoing military effort is, "a meaningful coalition, meaning other countries making serious military contributions so the United States isn't carrying the preeminent responsibility for an indefinite period of time.

"We will continue to support the coalition, be a member of the coalition, we will have a military role in the coalition, but we will not have a preeminent role."

The Illinois Air National Guard 126th Air Refueling Wing is one of the wings that stepped up to the call.

"The 126th Air Refueling Wing always stands ready to respond at a moment's notice," said Col. Peter Nezamis, the 126th ARW commander. "We have very highly trained and highly motivated Airmen. I'm proud of their passion, professionalism and willingness to help our country and state."

Article by Tech. Sgt. John Orrell, National Guard Bureau