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Maj. Gen. Maas visits with remote Guardsmen

Master Sgt. George Bender, Alaska Air National Guard, gives Maj. Gen. Paul Maas, Air Force Space Command, ANG assistant to the commander a run down on daily operations at Clear Air Force Station, Alaska, July 12, 2017. Maas’ visit to Clear AFS was part an on-site visit to some of the more remote loca-tions under his command.

Master Sgt. George Bender, Alaska Air National Guard, gives Maj. Gen. Paul Maas, Air Force Space Command, ANG assistant to the commander a run down on daily operations at Clear Air Force Station, Alaska, July 12, 2017. Maas’ visit to Clear AFS was part an on-site visit to some of the more remote loca-tions under his command.

CLEAR AIR FORCE STATION, Alaska --

Known as the “Guardians of the Last Frontier,” Alaska Air National Guard members assigned to the 168th Air Refueling Wing defend the U.S. and its allies 24/7 through missile warning and space situational awareness.

Maj. Gen. Paul Maas, Air Force Space Command, ANG assistant to the commander, led a group including Col. Kelvin Gardner, AFSPC command chaplain, and Lt. Col. Pete Zalewski, ANG assistant chaplain, to Clear Air Force Station, Alaska, July 12, 2017. The visit offered an opportunity for Maas to visit with Alaska Air National Guardsmen to understand and unique challenges they might encounter being in such a remote location.

Clear AFS is home to the 13th Space Warning Squadron, and 213th Space Warning Squadron, 168th Air Refueling Wing, Alaska Air National Guard.

“The missile warning and space surveillance missions being conducted 24/7 by the Alaska Air National Guardsmen at Clear (AFS) is truly an Air Force Space Command Total Force Initiative,” Maas said. “In addition, all security forces, services, and quality assurance for the site is being conducted by dedicated Alaska Air National Guardsmen."

“Many of them travel every week from their families in Anchorage, driving five hours before the start of four days, working 12-hr shifts,” said Gardner. “Some of these Guardsmen have contributed to the mission for over a decade.’

The two squadrons are located about 100 miles west of Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.  Clear AFS has been essential to missile warning since 1961 when the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System first became operational.  The Alaska Air National Guard provides the bulk of the force supporting the mission, and the active duty element is essential for coordinating the mission to overall homeland defense plans.

Clear AFS is the last operational station of the Subarctic BMEWS. Though elements of the original system have long since been replaced, Clear AFS is scheduled to receive new capabilities which will maintain its contribution well into the future.  What won’t change is the necessity for dedicated Airmen supporting the mission.

“The contribution of these Alaska Citizen Airmen is an example of why our recent strategic ministry plan prioritizes being in touch with Air National Guard squadrons supporting the space mission,” Gardner said. “We want to make sure they know the command and the nation appreciate their efforts.”

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