ARTs support MAFFS mission

By Staff Sergeant Luke Johnson | 302nd Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs | July 22, 2008

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A little known aspect of the Air Force Reserve is playing an important role in supporting the modular airborne firefighting system equipped-C-130s that are helping to control the wildfires in California.

Air Force Reserve Technicians or ARTS deployed with the 302nd Airlift Wing out of Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. and are providing essential operational support that includes maintainers and aircrew for the MAFFS C-130s of the 302nd Air Expeditionary Group operating out of McClellan Airfield.

ARTs are full-time civilian employees who are required to serve as members of the Air Force Reserve one weekend a month and at least 14 days a year of annual training. On these weekend Unit Training Assemblies and during their annual two-week tour of duty, ARTs train with fellow reservists. During the normal five-day workweek, ARTs perform as civilians--maintaining and operating the Reserve facility in direct support of their unit. 

"We have two jobs, our civilian job and our reserve job, they coexist, during the week we are civilians. We do the same job that we perform on the [drill] weekends, during the [drill] weekends, we put our uniform on and we are military," said Tech. Sgt. Brent Renholm, propulsion shop mechanic with the 302nd AW.

Sergeant Renholm has been an ART for eight years and has deployed on several MAFFS firefighting mission, and he is currently deployed as a civilian performing the same MAFFS support work that an Airmen would do on a C-130.

"My role [in the MAFFS mission] is ground support. We load up the aircraft with fuel and fire retardant," said Sergeant Renholm. "We also look over the aircraft, if something breaks with the engines, or props. I am here to get it fixed so we can get it flying again."

Master Sergeant Kenneth Moore aircraft hydraulic shop chief with the 302nd AW says that ARTs play an important role in the mission readiness of the Air Fore Reserve.

"We play a huge part [keeping traditional reservists trained and mission ready], we have reservists that are only there [at the unit] on the weekends, and we are there training them and keeping them up to date, so when we do deploy they have the skills to deploy," said Sergeant Moore.

Both Sergeants are proud to be part of the 302nd AEG MAFFS mission that is helping the citizens of California affected by the wildfires.

"We are helping people, hopefully saving their homes and their lives, I can't imagine anything worse the loosing everything that you have worked for," said Sergeant Moore.

"[MAFFS] it's a great mission, we are out here doing humanitarian services trying to keep these fires in check, helping out the firefighters [on the ground] who are really working hard," said Sergeant Renholm

The 302nd AEG is a part of a unified military effort of U.S. Northern Command to provide assistance to the U.S. Forest Service, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the National Interagency Fire Center.

USNORTHCOM continues to closely monitor the California wildfires to anticipate additional requests for Department of Defense assistance to local, federal and state authorities, and will launch as many missions as officials battling the wildfires require.