LOUISVILLE, Ky. –
The 123rd Airlift Wing dedicated an $8.9 million building here Friday to house units that respond to contingencies and disasters around the world.
The two-story, 28,000-square-foot Response Forces Facility, located on the grounds of the Kentucky Air National Guard Base, will serve as the new home of the 123rd Security Forces Squadron, the 123rd Contingency Response Group, a Fatality Search and Recovery Team, and a medical detachment for the state’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield Explosives Enhanced Response Force Package.
All four units are leaving extremely cramped quarters that will be repurposed to expand work space for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron and to enlarge the base dining hall, said Col. David Mounkes, commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing.
“This beautiful new building is not just nice to have,” Mounkes told a crowd of Airmen and officials gathered for the dedication. “It is absolutely critical for our military forces here on this installation and the 123rd Airlift Wing to perform their mission and provide the level of capability our country expects. It is a great return on investment, and it’s going to help us remain the best military in the world.”
The building has been in the planning stages for 14 years, shortly after the wing stood up the only operational Contingency Response group in the Air National Guard without any additional facilities to house the resource-intensive unit. Despite extreme space constraints over the years, the 123rd Contingency Response Group has been among the most active such units in the United States Air Force, regularly mobilizing around the world to respond to war-time taskings, earthquakes, hurricanes and the 2014 Ebola crisis in West Africa.
Now, with purpose-built facilities, Mounkes expects the CRG to enhance its global capabilities even more. The unit’s mission is to deploy to austere or non-functional airfields and quickly establish airlift operations. Its self-sustaining Airmen arrive with everything needed to open an air hub, from aircraft mechanics, security forces and civil engineers to all-terrain forklifts, power generation and satellite communications.
“The 123rd CRG is projected to grow significantly in the next few years,” Mounkes said. “This is a modernized facility, and I know we will get every ounce of bang for the buck spent on this building, not only for overseas contingencies in defense of our homeland, but also for domestic disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes.”
Brig. Gen. Hal Lamberton, adjutant general of the Kentucky National Guard, agreed, adding that the new facility is a credit to the men and women of the 123rd Airlift Wing and the 123rd Contingency Response Group.
“This CRG is already noted at the Air National Guard level as not just one of the most proficient units, but (one that’s) called upon to assist with other states,” Lamberton said to the audience. “As a matter of fact, in the training schedule right now, you're a crucial piece to standing up the new Puerto Rican CRG. And I've received phone calls in particular from both three- and four-star generals, just to make sure that we stay engaged with that — it has that level of visibility, and it's that crucial to the future force structure for the Air National Guard.
“I'm proud to be in the Guard with each one of you,” Lamberton continued. “I'm proud that we're able to continue to work with the expansion of the 123rd. And I'm proud that we've got a credible force, not just in the Kentucky National Guard, but in the total military.”