June 1, 2020 (by SSgt. Jeremy McGuffin) - The Green Hornets from the 61st Airlift Squadron were recently awarded the General Joseph Smith Trophy for being recognized as the most outstanding airlift squadron in Air Mobility Command in 2019.
This is the second year in a row Little Rock Air Force Base has had a squadron receive the coveted award, showcasing the sustained excellence the 19th Airlift Wing provides the mobility air forces enterprise.
“I’m proud to have arguably the two best airlift squadrons in the MAF, 41st AS last year and 61st AS this year,” said Col. Shane Haughian, 19th Operations Group commander. “One of the things I’m most proud of is how the two squadrons work together, share best practices and push each other to be better.”
To get there, the Green Hornets executed the first-ever C-130J radiological exercise and the first-ever Mobility Air Force Distributed Operations exercise. Their ground breaking full spectrum readiness work redefined the limits of mobility airlift in contested, denied and degraded environments and set a new FSR standard for the Air Force.
“When we set out to define what full spectrum readiness meant to us, we knew that we had to grow beyond basic C-130J combat airlift,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Miller, 61st AS commander. “We had to gain and maintain a level of proficiency in our competencies to enable us to learn new things, to stretch our capability and then share it with the enterprise.”
The honour of receiving the trophy did not come without challenges as the airlift squadron supported seven combatant commanders across five areas of responsibility in 2019. In total, the squadron executed 5,500 tactical airlift sorties and transported 14 million tons of cargo and 24,400 passengers.
“This win is concrete feedback and validation of all the effort the squadron has put into the combat airlift enterprise,” Miller said.
Those efforts culminated in the largest combat airdrop in 10 years, resupplying isolated SOF troops in Afghanistan, in support of the Department of State’s top Afghanistan priority.
“Effectiveness in the next conflict will be predicated on our ability to integrate with joint, interagency and multinational partners,” Miller said. “Even if we’re the best at combat airlift, we can’t expect to execute alone successfully – defending our nation is a joint endeavour.”
The 61st AS is continuing their excellence through training and real world contingencies and will be passing on best practices to the Herk community.
“The Smith Trophy win for the 61st Airlift Squadron is recognition of direct contributions to our nation’s defense,” Miller said.