Since last October, the center has facilitated training for 1,533 military personnel from 15 separate units across the joint force – all seeking to improve their warfighting skills before they deploy, or to complete required training they may not have been able to efficiently accomplish at their home base.
“We are a one-stop shop operation,” said Senior Master Sgt. Samuel Roberts, superintendent for the TFTC.
Established in 1975 as Operation Snowbird, the TFTC was a succession of training exercises – as opposed to an actual unit – catering to northern Air National Guard bases that came to Tucson during the winter months, according to Roberts. The name change was a result of the operation receiving more active-duty and foreign units, and handling an increased variety of assets and resources year-round.
“Now, we sometimes get units that literally come off the street, redirected by the 355th Fighter Wing here at D-M,” said Roberts.
With a crew of 11 full-time members – comprised of munitions, aerospace ground equipment, vehicle maintenance, personnel and flight line Airmen, along with a command staff – Roberts described the center as “our very own little Air Force base.”
“We have a game plan before they (visiting units) come here, and this allows them to be more mission-oriented to their training,” explained Roberts. “Then when they arrive, we serve as liaisons.”
In May, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron – 165, a Miramar, California, based unit that brought their MV-22 Ospreys to D-M, came to Arizona to fly side-by-side with A-10 Thunderbolt IIs.
“Coming here is excellent for training. The environment that we work in right now in theater, with the topography and climate, really mirrors what is here in Arizona,” said Marine Corps Maj. Paul Bisulca, the visiting squadron’s executive officer.
Technical training aside, Bisulca added the facility design lends for greater cohesiveness and camaraderie among the “White Knights,” the nickname for the 50-year-old squadron.
Currently, the TFTC assumes the role of a host, providing the means and capabilities for Air Force components to conduct an A-10 bombing, missile and gunnery competition named Hawgsmoke.
A walk through one of TFTC’s six buildings highlights its joint-service mentality, with ceiling tiles painted like murals, representing the wide range of missions of the units that have called the center its temporary home.
With the words “Fight’s On” displayed on its own patch, the TFTC is poised to continue its services as the total package for future customers.