NEWS | Sept. 15, 2021

Alaska Air National Guard Members Volunteer for Operation Allies Welcome

By Maj. Chelsea Aspelund 176th Wing Public Affairs

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Approximately 20 Alaska Air National Guard members are providing assistance to Operation Allies Welcome at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.

Operation Allies Welcome is a Department of Homeland Security-led effort supported by the Department of State, Department of Defense, and U.S. Northern Command to provide transportation, temporary housing, and general support for Afghan special immigrant visa applicants at suitable facilities nationwide.

“The Alaska Air National Guard showed another incredible example of volunteerism as so many of our Airmen volunteered on short notice to support Operation Allies Welcome,” said Brig. Gen. Tracy Smith, Alaska Air National Guard commander.

The Guardsmen, from the AKANG’s 176th Wing and Joint Force Headquarters, departed Sept. 10 to join a task force comprised of National Guard and active-duty personnel from across the country and are not expected to return until later next month.

“I am so proud of this team and honored to serve with such selfless Airmen,” said Smith.

Operation Allies Welcome is an extension operation to Operation Allies Refuge during which more than 180,000 U.S. citizens and Afghan allies were evacuated from Afghanistan by National Guard and active-duty airlift crews.

Alaska Guardsmen from the 144th Airlift Squadron joined active-duty aircrew from the 517th Airlift Squadron on board two C-17 Globemaster III aircraft earlier this month and safely evacuated more than 2,000 personnel and 1 million pounds of cargo from Kabul.

“The 176th Wing is honored to have supported Operation Allies Refuge and to now be supporting Operation Allies Welcome,” said Brig. Gen. Tony Stratton, commander of the 176th Wing. “Our team of Arctic Guardians continues to support our nation at every opportunity.”