A Total Guard, Force Family!
by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Noah J. Tancer
The Kleive family is back in AFCENT news
since their last deployment in 2018. This time they’re not only
representing the 148th Fighter Wing, but the entirety of the U.S.
Air National Guard and what it brings to the Ninth Air Force’s Total
Out of the 13 Guardsmen family units stationed
at Prince Sultan Air Base the Kleive family is the largest. The
father-daughter duo documented in the past, Master Sgt. Scott and
Staff Sgt. Kalei Kleive, brought Staff Sgt. Devin Kleive, with them
this time to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
May 7, 2022 - U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Devin, Staff Sgt. Kalei and Master Sgt. Scott Kleive, Air National Guardsmen currently assigned to the 179th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron
from the 148th Fighter Wing out of Duluth, Minnesota enjoy Kleive
family time behind a Block 50 F-16CM, Fighting Falcon during
a deployment at Prince Sultan Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. (Image
created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Noah J. Tancer.)
“It was a little like a domino effect,”
said Kalei, a plans and scheduling manager with the 179th
Expeditionary Fighter Squadron. “My dad learned first, then soon
after I found out I was going and then Devin found out. Family trip
to the desert, that's what we decided.”
The 148th FW out of
Duluth, Minnesota, or the 179th EFS, as it's currently known in the
Southwest Asia theater, operates the Block 50 F-16CM Fighting
Falcon, one of the newest models in the U.S. Air Force fleet. Like
its nickname “Viper” implies, the F-16 packs a fast and nasty bite
for anyone unwise enough to provoke it.
Scott, a crew chief with the 179th EFS, is a general systems
mechanic and oversees all maintenance, related to the aircraft.
Kalei manages both aircraft maintenance and engine maintenance, and
Devin, a munitions systems specialist, loads munitions and provides
general maintenance to weapon-related systems. Together they check
the viper's scales, schedule its vet visits and sharpen its fangs,
in order to keep it mission-ready.
Besides the air power
assets, the Kleive family is also a perfect example of the two
different lifestyles common in the ANG but foreign to most
active-duty Airmen - full-time students and older “non-traditional”
Both Kalei and Devin, like many younger Citizen
Airmen, are full-time college students. They give the Guard a direct
line to understanding and incorporating the new and ever-advancing
technologies, practices and theories of the civilian sector. Whereas
the youth of the active side often don't have the time or single
location stability to pursue hands-on or in-person education.
“We have students that are unique to the guard outside of what
you see on the active side,” said Scott. “While they’re serving
their commitment to the Air National Guard, they’re working towards
their educational goals. We also have an older component, like
myself, that's here. We have members here that have worked the F-16
airframe for 32 years that are still working maintenance. I don’t
think you’d ever see that on the active side.”
the older guardsmen generations, Scott provides the National Guard a
source of continuity, life wisdom and long honed expertise.
All together the Kleives, like other Citizen Airmen being half
civilian and half service-member, bring the unique opportunity of
integrating and advancing their two lives, augmenting the skills of
one to better accomplish the other.
“It's great that you can
get civilian experience and be in the guard at the same time,” said
Kalei. “It’s like building external points in your resume and
getting qualifications outside of what you know in the military.”
The Guard’s family operating style nurtures these lifestyles and
the transition between the two, allowing for an easier flow of
innovation, support and personal life exploration.
starting around the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the line has all but
faded between active and guard, as it is now part of and deployable
with, the Total Force.
“The new Guard is an active force,”
said Scott. “In my early term in the 90’s this didn’t exist. There
was no deploying; not until 9/11. Now, many of these members that
are here on this trip have deployed six, seven maybe eight times to
Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, etc. So the Guard and
Reserve have become in time an active component of the military.
In this era of total force integration, the Kleive family and
the 148th FW are carrying their weight having served local interests
with COVID-19 aid; state interests with civil unrest in
Minneapolis–Saint Paul; federal interests with Operation Allies
Welcome and global interests deploying as the 179th EFS.
think the Air Force is understanding the unique contributions the
guard can bring today, that we are a family, we travel as a unit and
we’re going to get the job done when we get there,” said Kalei.
Claiming a full 24 hours quicker response time than its federal
active and reserve counterparts, goang.com states, “No matter where
in the world conflict arises or crises erupts, the Air Guard is able
to mobilize and respond within 48 hours.” That could in part be due
to the one-location career and family-style camaraderie within the
“Although I haven't been in long I've been working and
training with these people for the last three and a half years to
prepare for where we are now,” said Devin. “Although I'm younger,
things go a lot smoother because you already have experience doing
things with the other people you're deployed with.”
to know everybody's systems and processes, so it really helps in
quickly and successfully accomplishing our missions,” adds Kalei.
A strong source of morale and mental support for Airmen are
their families whether at home or abroad. Without that support,
anxiety can set in like a disease and jeopardize overall USCENTCOM
capabilities. The family’s matriarch and brother back home can be
afforded no less support.
“She is a very proud, patient and
loving mom,” said Kalei. “She totally understands what we are doing
here and supports us, but I am happy we have another brother to
watch out for her too, and of course there is a ton of support from
the 148th members back home.”
Having deployed before and
happy to be doing it again, Kalei summarized her experience at PSAB
saying, “I’m really proud to be here with my brother and dad, and
couldn't have asked for a better guard family to be deployed with.”
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