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Recent History of the 107th Fighter Squadron

107th Fighter Squadron Emblem (

The 107th fighter squadron is an Air National Guard unit attached to the 127th wing out of Selfridge Air Base in Mount Clemens, Michigan. They have a long history stretching back into World War I when they were founded on the 27th of August 1917 and have been active ever since going through 15 designations and more than 20 different aircraft.

Most people may think of National Guard Units in the way that they are described on the Air National Guard’s website:

“When Air National Guard units are not mobilized or under federal control, they report to the governor of their respective state, territory (Puerto Rico, Guam, Virgin Islands) or the commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard. Each of the 54 National Guard organizations is supervised by the adjutant general of the state or territory. Under state law, the Air National Guard provides protection of life, property and preserves peace, order and public safety. These missions are accomplished through emergency relief support during natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes and forest fires; search and rescue operations; support to civil defense authorities; maintenance of vital public services and counterdrug operations ”[2].

The 107th Fighter Squadron has had a more active recent history than most National Guard units since about 1997 through 2012.

The 107th has been deployed seven times since 1997, starting with a deployment in Kuwait for Operation Southern Watch, which started in 1991 with the Gulf War and was an operation to place a no-fly zone over portions of Iraq to keep Saddam Hussein’s air force grounded. Their activity continued in 1999 when the squadron was relocated to Turkey for Operation Northern Watch, the northern side of the no-fly zone they were previously deployed to. In 2001 they were once again relocated to Operation Southern Watch this time in Saudi Arabia. Following their 2001 deployment the squad began to pick up more of a combat role as they were redeployed to Turkey once again in the spring of 2003 but this time they began running air support for ground forces, “which marked the first time since World War II that the unit dropped weapons”[4]. After this deployment the use of the unit for ground support continued with deployments for Operation Iraqi Freedom in both 2004 and 2007, to Kandahar Afghanistan in 2011, and most recently to an undisclosed base in the Middle East as part of Operation Inherent Resolve to provide close air support in the fight against the Islamic State in 2015 [4].

The reason for this activity can be related to the type of aircraft being used by the squadron. The 107th Fighter Squadron generally had the most advanced aircraft of the time, this can be seen with the updates to the F-16 coming about in 1994 and then promptly updated to the F-16 C/D in the same year. Then again in 2009 as the global war on terror continued to rage on and the military needed less air to air capabilities like those offered by the F-16 the Squadron switched aircraft to the A-10 Warthog which specializes in air to ground engagements. So as seen in this small section of their history the squadron does a good job of adapting their aircraft to stay up to date and to maintain usefulness in the current engagements the United States is involved in.

The switch to the A-10 was not seen as an upgrade to all those involved as it is an older aircraft being produced in the Cold War and only having systems updates since then with no major performance updates. Due to this there have been attempts to remove the A-10 from service due to the reports of it being a dated aircraft. This would no doubt slow the 107th’s recent upswing in deployments as it would force them to revert back to one of the more multipurpose aircraft like the F-16, and remove the specialized role that this unit has undertaken. This would not only effect the fighter squadron on base but there are about 180 full time and 300 part time jobs directly related to the A-10 aircraft on base as reported by the Macomb Daily News.

Despite these pushes to remove the aircraft from the base there are those that understand its importance like Major General Gregory J. Vadnais who is quoted by the Detroit News saying “The A-10 is the best close air supporter platform that we have in the inventory”[7]. United States Representative Candice Miller, when asked about the most recent deployment, made the press release, “This deployment is a true testament to the vital role our National Guard plays in national defense and to the effectiveness of the A-10 ‘Warthog’ in combat”.[5]

With the support of leaders in their respective areas like the Major General and the U.S. Representative the Macomb Daily released that the Secretary of defense Ash Carter announced the A-10 Thunderbolt II is now guaranteed to remain part of the United States Air Force’s inventory until 2022 at which time it will be up for consideration to be replaced once again. To those who understand the importance of the role of this aircraft allows the 107th to fulfill like Representative Candice Miller this news was very welcome as seen by her release to the Macomb Daily:

“After years of trying to divest the A-10 fleet, the administration, no longer able to ignore the aircraft’s unparalleled performance in theater, has finally abandoned their shortsighted efforts, The A-10, without question, provides the best close air support in combat throughout the world, as evidenced by their critical role in the Middle East in the fight against ISIS … I applaud the Administration’s long overdue decision to protect this indispensable aircraft, which provides critical capabilities for our troops on the ground around the world.”[5]

While probably the biggest impact in the 107th’s recent history the choice of the Air Force to keep the A-10 in service is not the only major development for the squadron. As reported by the Daily Tribune on March 10, 2012 Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Champagne took control of the Michigan National Guard’s 127th Operations Group which is the parent unit that contains the 107th  and Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Saridakis took control of the 107th itself. Champagne who was the previous commander of the 107th served in the Airforce from 1987 to 1996 after which he joined the Air National Guard as a member of the 107th serving in multiple positions while there including chief of weapons, chief of scheduling and training, chief of safety, director of operations and, then in his previous position as squadron commander. Not only experienced in the logistic command structure Champagne also has over 3000 hours in the F-16 and 500 in the A-10.[6]. With this much experience he was welcomed as the new commander of the 127th. Saridakis on the other hand has less formal military experience having earned his way into the pilots position through a combination of ROTC and at the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training at Sheppard AFB, Texas, in 1990. Then in 1997 he moved into the Air National Guard where he continued his career.[6]

The 107th itself has had a very large impact in the global war on terror with multiple deployments into the middle east and praise for their work providing close air support for units they have most likely saved countless lives on our side in this war. They have also proven in recent times to be resilient by changing aircraft when needed to adapt to a new type of war even if that meant switching to an older aircraft, also by dealing with efforts to remove their primary aircraft from service while simultaneously coping with a command change at both the squadron and operations group level. This is a very busy period for a National Guard level unit and if they continue to keep up the quality of support that they have given in recent times then there is a good chance that their near future will most likely also be just as busy.

Secondary Sources

[1] Air Force Historical Support Division

Ball, Gregory. Air Force Historical Support Division18 Sept. 2012. Accessed 9 Dec. 2016.

[2] Air National Guard

Air National Guard18 Sept. 2012.

[3] US Air Force

U.S. Air Force, Air Combat Command, Sept. 2016. Accessed 9 Dec. 2016.

[4] 107th Fighter Squadron Fact Sheet

127 Wing Air National Guard Sept. 2016. Accessed 9 Dec. 2016.

Primary Sources

[5]  Macomb Daily

Staff, Macomb Daily , Macomb Daily, 4 Feb. 2016. Accessed 9 Dec. 2016.

[6] Daily Tribune

Daily Tribune, Daily Tribune, 10 Mar. 2012. Accessed 9 Dec. 2016.

[7] Detroit News

Watson, Ursula. The Detroit News, The Detroit News. Accessed 21 Apr. 2015.