An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

'Calico' wing serves as representation of Total Force team supporting world-wide operations

  • Published
Airmen serving in the 313th Air Expeditionary Wing here are from myriad places, but they are "one team."

Those Airmen, and the planes they use for air refueling and airlift for Operation Unified Protector, are not only active duty, but also from the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve -- a Total Force effort. It's an effort that is supporting the international response to the unrest in Libya and enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 of a no-fly zone over Libya.

If a person were to gaze out on the flightline of this deployed base, they might even make an observation similar to that of the 313th AEW Commander, Brig. Gen. Roy Uptegraff. When looking at the multitude of colors of tail flashes on the 313th AEW ramp, "General Uptegraff said the ramp looked like a 'calico cat,'" said Col. Dave Cohen, 313th AEW vice commander.

"Thus, the 'calico wing' was born," Colonel Cohen said.

A calico cat, facts show, is a domestic cat with a spotted or parti-colored coat. As an example, a recently published photo illustration from 313th AEW Public Affairs shows the various tail flash colors of the aircraft that might resemble the "spotted" coat of a calico cat.

That photo included colors of aircraft tails from Air National Guard units in Nebraska, Utah, Tennessee, Illinois, Iowa and Pennsylvania. It also showed Air Force Reserve aircraft from Indiana and North Carolina, and active-duty aircraft from California, Kansas, Washington, Florida and New Jersey.

"You can't tell us apart," said Air Force Reservist Master Sgt. William Buckley, 916th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flight chief from Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. Sergeant Buckley, who is deployed to the 313th AEW, commented about the distinctions between the sections of the service in a news report by Senior Airman David Dobrydney of 313th AEW Public Affairs.

"We're proud to be able to do any mission the Air Force needs us to do," Sergeant Buckley said in the report.

The aircraft belonging to the 313th AEW include the KC-135 Stratotanker and the KC-10 Extender. Both aircraft help keep the NATO aircraft flying in the no-fly zone over Libya constantly refueled through a coordinated aerial refueling campaign.

On any day, facts also show that aircrew and maintenance Airmen combine in caring for those tankers and in flying each plane on refueling missions. For example, there could be an aircrew from the Air Force Reserve, flying a tanker owned by the Air National Guard, but maintained by active-duty Airmen.

In addition to its "calico" colors, the 313th AEW may also be reflective of the Air Force's leadership vision about the Total Force Enterprise.

"The ability to fashion a powerful combination of active, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve components has been one of our great strengths," Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley said in a September 2010 speech at the Air Force Association Conference and Technology Exposition, National Harbor Center at Oxon Hill, Md.

"We have undertaken a comprehensive review of our 142 Total Force initiatives to establish the business case analyses, combining operational effectiveness and efficiency, which will help us further leverage the Total Force concept," Secretary Donley said in the speech. "In mission sets old and new, we'll continue to look for ways to employ Total Force initiatives when they bring more capacity, more capability, and efficiency to our Air Force."

Supporting those new mission sets might also be what's being done today in the 313th AEW and for Operation Unified Protector. Through the Total Force, it's a "calico" wing making Air Force history.

(Senior Airman David Dobrydney, 313th AEW Public Affairs, Air Force News, and Master Sgt. Scott Sturkol, Air Mobility Command Public Affairs, contributed to this report.)