Tag Archives: Air Force Reserve

Dispatch from the AOR–Running with the Rock Stars on Tour for the Troops

Running with the Rock Stars on Tour for the Troops

by Lt. Col. Ann Peru Knabe

I’ll never make it as a rock star – I love my sleep too much. But I’m spending two weeks with some real rock stars on the Tour for the Troops; these artists rarely sleep.

Lt Col Knabe escorts the Tour for the Troops
Lt Col Knabe escorts the Tour for the Troops

The tour is sponsored by the Air Force Reserve, and features musician Kid Rock, comedian Carlos Mencia and singer / songwriter Jessie James.

And they do put in long, long days as they travel into combat zones. They’ll play seven concerts across the AOR (area of responsibility) and Europe before the tour ends.

Seven shows in less than 12 days is no easy feat. The performing artists are short on sleep as they spend hours setting up, performing sound tests, signing autographs, touring bases, posing for photos with the troops, and, of course, performing.

Despite the long hours cramped on a plane with equipment, the performers remain positive and focused, working to the point of exhaustion.

There’s commitment behind the scenes, too, as the tech and production crews set-up and tear down stages at every location. There are no divas on this trip – they all have enormous stage talent, and yet enormous responsibility setting-up sound and light gear. There are no autograph sessions or after-parties for most of the roadies, they have a date with a loadmaster who is packing the plane.

Meanwhile additional deployed Airmen and Soldiers work behind the scenes at each location to ensure the tour’s success.  They welcome the artists, dedicating scarce resources and manning to ensure the shows’ success.

The tour is an amazing total force effort: Before leaving the U.S., two Air Force Reserve aircraft were packed with artists, backup singers, a  full support team and more than 45,000 pounds of cargo, including a grand piano, the bands’ instruments, and all the lights, sound and electronic equipment used during the show. It’s enough to fill two semi-trucks. Reserve aerial porters load and unload the aircraft at each location, and Reserve crews fly the group. The Band of the Air Force Reserve, itself, is comprised of musicians who belong to the regular Air Force, and features soloist, Angelina Johnson, a Guardsman who joined the Reserve component after serving on active duty. Plus there are civilians manning the production team, putting together the stage, lights and sound system. They all work together to ensure a sensational show is offered at every venue.

Sure, there are glitches, like the time we flew to a forward operating base in Iraq and left the autograph cards back at Kirkuk. But the troops were appreciative to have their first VIP guests in four years. And there are laughs, like the time Jessie had a brown hairy wolf spider scare her out of her room in Incirlik.

The tour is exhausting, but it’s only two weeks of my life. That’s a sharp contrast to Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen spending six months to a year in the war zone. As the Tour for the Troops finishes its trip through the AOR, the Air Force Reserve salutes all deployed service members and says “thank you” to their supportive families. We’ll soon be back home in the U.S. , but the personal sacrifices of our men and women in the armed forces will not be forgotten.

Lt. Col. Ann Peru Knabe, an Air Force Reservist, is the public affairs officer traveling with the 2009 Tour for the Troops. Tour for the Troops is sponsored by the Air Force Reserve. See photos, video and updates on the Tour for the Troops Facebook fan page.  Follow Air Force Reserve on Twitter @AFRC. Look for tour updates on Twitter at #Tour4Troops

NY Times OpEd missed the mark

We normally don’t respond one way or another what opinions come out in the OpEd pages regarding the Air Force, but this one really missed the mark and we offer a few counterpoints to the New York Times readers. Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Norton Schwartz does a great job at explaining that the Air Force is engaged and is in the fight.

To the Editor:
“Up, Up and Out,” by Paul Kane (Op-Ed, April 21), recommends disbanding the Air Force because of vague claims that ours is a redundant service and apparently not at war.

Mr. Kane’s conclusion dismisses more than 71 percent of the 330,000 active-duty Airmen who, along with their Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve teammates, have deployed since 2001. These warriors directly execute and support combat operations, including in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In that period, 45 Airmen have been killed in combat and more than 500 wounded. The Air Force routinely responds rapidly to urgent calls from ground forces in dire circumstances — with the unrivaled combat precision and reliability Airmen routinely bring to bear.

Our Airmen prove their worth and commitment in distinctive service that prevents war and reduces the cost of conflict in American blood and treasure. We have done so faithfully in every conflict since our inception.

Today’s Air Force brings specific capabilities to the joint fight to defend the homeland, deter aggression, help those in need and defend the freedoms we all enjoy. This resonates with the American people because they recognize the vital importance of Air Force global vigilance, reach and power.

We proudly secure our nation’s skies and our sister services from attack, any time and any place. Airmen will be there when America needs them, and every serving member of the Army, the Navy and the Marines knows it.

(Gen.) Norton A. Schwartz
Air Force Chief of Staff
Washington, April 21, 2009

We own the sky — hands down. We (joint DOD) bring more coordinated force than anyother nation in the world should our nation decide to. There is no other force in the world capable of striking a target anywhere on the globe in such a short amount of time.

Looking at the opinion piece in the NY Times, take a look at Quatto and his counter: “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”