JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, D.C. --
Despite COVID-19, deployments for members of the United States Air Force Bands continue, as it is an essential and crucial mission for the career field. This summer, eight members of The U. S. Air Force Band will deploy as the U.S. Air Forces Central Command Band, or AFCENT Band, in support of troop morale overseas.
The AFCENT Band is based out of Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, and consists of deployed musicians from all active-duty Air Force Bands, plus members from the Reserve and Air National Guard Bands. Members rotate in and out of the AFCENT Band and are assigned to the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility, which consists of 21 countries.
There are two main missions of the AFCENT Band. First of all, it provides support for the morale and welfare of American and Coalition forces by giving concerts at installations across the area of responsibility. Secondly, it provides outreach opportunities to host and partner nations in the region, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of State, through public concerts and support for high-level diplomatic events. The Band seeks to build connections with the people and governments in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. It is an effective public relations tool that can build bridges and give a positive impression of the U.S. Air Force and the United States.
The AFCENT Band performs a wide variety of musical styles which is dependent on the personnel assigned, in order to appeal to audiences of all ages and backgrounds. On this particular deployment, the Band will be performing hits from the Top 40 genre.
Technical Sgt. Samuel Allen, a tenor vocalist and member of The U.S. Air Force Band’s Singing Sergeants, is looking forward to his first deployment with great anticipation. He states, “Working with this team has been an absolute blast, and I am anxious to get out there and do a great job. I am also really looking forward to supporting troop missions. If we can give the brave men and women in those deployed environments some fun and a little sense of home, then I consider that a success.”
Another member of The U.S. Air Force Band that will be deploying is Senior Master Sgt. (sel) Grant Langford, who will serve as the AFCENT Band’s superintendent of operations for approximately 200 days.
Sgt. Langford is also looking forward to the deployment with much excitement. He explains, “I am extremely proud and honored to be entrusted with stewarding the most critical segment of our U.S. Air Force Band mission. This deployment covers every facet of our core values which are furthering diplomacy with foreign counterparts, lifting the spirits of deployed U.S. and foreign service members, and providing a lasting impression of the United States on residents in the 21-nation Area of Responsibility. At the same time, I will miss my wife and two children and I am working hard to make sure they have everything they need to be worry-free in my absence.”
Preparing for a deployment involves much mental, physical and spiritual preparation. Sgt. Allen explains, “For me, the thing that has helped the most with mentally preparing is just leaning into the fact that I do not know what to expect. This is all very new for me, and I am not going to have the answers for all of the questions I may have. It is going to be a great learning experience in that when we get there, we will have to take care of anything as it comes. This group cares about each other, and we are going to make sure that any adversity that comes our way will be dealt with together.”
Sgt. Langford shares the same sentiment. He illustrates, “There is no way to fully prepare for what lies ahead, but our team has been working hard for several months to make sure we have fulfilled all of our required tactical and online coursework. Our unit deployment managers have done an amazing job keeping our team on-task and ready to go. The remainder of my energy has been making sure I am spending as much quality family time as possible. I also remind myself that for many service members, deployments are a way of life. Their families constantly adjust and are resilient to challenges at home. We are fortunate to have a supportive network of family and friends ready to step in and assist while I am gone. Making my family and nation proud will be a driving force that will help keep my spirits high while I perform my duties overseas.”
With preparations coming to a close, Sgt. Langford is most looking forward to the impact that the AFCENT Band will make. He states, “I firmly believe in the power of music and the transcendent nature of musical performances. I have seen firsthand the effect music can have on anyone from children to WWII veterans. I am looking forward to seeing this important connection in this arena.”
There are several ways you can stay connected with our deployed musicians - be sure to follow The United States Air Force Band on Facebook and Instagram, and for the most in-depth look into this critical mission, follow the AFCENT Band on Facebook.