Air Forces Africa leaders visit 110th AOG

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. -- Increasing integration and reinforcing the relationship between the 110th Air Operations Group and 17th Air Force were the themes of Brig. Gen. Michael Callan's first visit to Battle Creek Air National Guard Base on June 4-5. General Callan is the vice-commander of 17 AF, also known as U.S. Air Forces Africa, which is based at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

On Friday General Callan toured the base, visiting each squadron area, and noted the progress of the AOG's renovations. He examined blueprints for the new AOG campus and also met with Adjutant General for Michigan Maj. Gen. Thomas G. Cutler, 110th Airlift Wing Commander Col. Rodger Seidel, AOG Commander Col. David San Clemente and the AOG leadership, including one-on-one discussions with each of the squadron commanders.

Saturday's schedule included a briefing with AOG members, discussing the current state of 17 AF, taking questions, and explaining how the AOG was integrated in to 17 AF's command structure. He then held an officer's call before attending the wing formation.

"I thank Colonel San Clemente and the entire AOG for rolling out the red carpet," said General Callan. "We look forward to breaking new ground on how the National Guard and a component Numbered Air Force can provide U.S. Africa Command with full capability."

Though not the first organization of its kind, General Callan noted that the 110th AOG has rapidly established itself as a model for others. He praised the close cooperation of the two units and laid out a road map for even greater integration.

"The number of volunteers we have had for activations from the AOG is simply amazing," he said. "It really sets the AOG apart."

Both 17 AF and the 110th AOG are relatively new units. Seventeenth Air Force was reactivated in 2008 to serve as the Air Force command element for U.S. Africa Command and the AOG stood up on April 1, 2009, to provide direct support to 17 AF.

General Callan was accompanied by 17 AF Command Chief Master Sgt. Michael Grimm, who held an NCO call on Saturday and discussed the concerns of the AOG's enlisted force.

"I think you have a great unit," said Chief Grimm, who joined 17 AF in January. "One of the most impressive things about our partnership is that when AOG members are deployed to Ramstein or in Africa, they are absolutely indistinguishable from the active duty component. The integration is seamless."

Colonel San Clemente noted that while the AOG had enjoyed success, challenges remained.

"We are doing something new in our relationship with Seventeenth Air Force, and from an administrative standpoint, that is not always easy," he said. "We could not have come as far and as fast without the phenomenal support we've gotten from Seventeenth Air Force. We have some exciting days ahead of us in terms of training and real-world events. We tell people that may be interested in joining to bring a buddy with them, because we have a lot going on."