A new Air Force unit is being activated at Shaw Air Force Base outside Sumter.
The 495th Fighter Group was officially established in a ceremony on the base Friday. It is one of 10 new “active associate units” that are going online around the country. The concept is that active-duty Air Force servicemembers will integrate with various Air National Guard and Reserve units across the country to help streamline training and resource costs as those sister branches become ever more involved in overseas actions.
“We are taking our regular Air Force airmen and putting them there working with the Guard and Reserve hosts using, flying, and fixing the Guard and Reserve airplanes,” said Lt. Col. Juris Jansons, who will be the 495th’s first commander. Jansons will soon be promoted to colonel as he takes command.
While the 495th’s HQ will be Shaw, the group will actually have detachments at different posts around the country, including Vermont, Missouri, Texas, and Florida. Jansons said other units are set to come online in Colorado, Wisconsin, South Dakota, and Alabama. It’s part of a Department of Defense initiative known as “Total Force Integration,” which treats the Reserve and Guard similarly to other units inside the Air Force.
Jansons said the idea is to have relatively young Air Force personnel train with the older and more experienced members of the Guard and Reserve. “We as an Air Force are doing everything we can to produce the greatest generation of warrior-airmen,” he told South Carolina Radio Network after Friday’s ceremony, “We’re working hard to create that next generation of warrior leaders.”
The 495th Fighter Group is actually a reactivation of a World War II-training squadron. The group disbanded shortly before the war ended. The new unit will be under the 9th Air Force, which is also headquartered at Shaw.
The 9th Air Force comprises eight active-duty wings and two direct reporting units in the Southeastern U.S. with more than 480 aircraft and 28,000 active-duty and civilian personnel. The 9th Air Force is also responsible for the operational readiness of 13 Air Reserve Component wings.