WASHINGTON – The Air Force announced the transition of the 156th Airlift Wing, Puerto Rico Air National Guard, to the 156th Wing in conjunction with its newly assigned contingency response and combat communications missions, effective April 10.
Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, National Guard Bureau chief, made the official announcement in a phone call to the governor of Puerto Rico, April 11.
The new missions – contingency response and combat communications - align with the needs of the National Defense Strategy. The overall size of the wing is projected to grow by 18 Airmen, including four additional full-time positions.
“The new contingency response and combat communications missions are strategically aligned and capitalize on the unique capabilities, experiences and professionalism of Puerto Rico’s Airmen,” said Lt. Gen. L. Scott Rice, Air National Guard director. “The missions also provide Puerto Rico’s territorial leadership tremendous resources for territorial emergency response.”
Contingency response forces are highly specialized units that rapidly deploy to quickly establish air mobility operations.
Combat communications forces provide voice and data capability to supported units conducting overseas and local response operations.
In addition to the new units, the existing security forces and civil engineering units will increase in size. Adding to these existing capabilities further enhances the Puerto Rico ANG’s ability to support global operations and assist territorial emergency response agencies.
“The 156th (Wing) will be the first ANG wing with this particular combination of missions, and it joins a well-established contingency response and combat communications enterprise that already exists within the Air National Guard,” said Rice.
“The Air Force and the Air National Guard are capitalizing on the expertise of (Puerto Rico ANG) Airmen and Puerto Rico’s strategic location to support federal and territorial mission requests. I am confident the Airmen of Puerto Rico have the skills and the motivation required to continue their tradition of success in these new missions.”
The unit will enter a 36-month conversion period during which the Air National Guard will provide support as the Puerto Rico ANG builds and reaches full operational capabilities.