JOINT BASE SAN ANTNOIO-LACKLAND, Texas —
The 156th Airlift Wing, Puerto Rico Air National Guard, transitioned to the 156th Wing April 10. The name change synced with the unit’s newly assigned contingency response and combat communications missions.
“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.”
The transition adds to the 24th Air Force’s combat communications strength and overall ability to deliver full-spectrum cyberspace capabilities and outcomes to the Air Force, joint force and the nation.
“The 156th Wing’s new combat communications squadron will be a 24th Air Force-gained capability, adding to the 15 combat communications squadrons already in the ANG,” said Col. James A. Pokorski II, ANG advisor to the 24th AF commander.
The new combat communications mission also aligns with the National Defense Strategy’s aim to build a more ready and lethal cyber force poised to compete and deter the nation’s adversaries in cyberspace.
“These combat communications squadrons are responsible for extending command, control, communications and computers, and enabling operations from expeditionary air bases worldwide,” Pokorski said. “Combat communications squadrons also restore basic communications following major hurricanes and other natural disaster.”
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,” Rice said. “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.