The 451st Air Expeditionary Wing at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, is scheduled to deactivate in January 2014 as part of the bigger Afghanistan retrograde efforts.
The 451st AEW is currently comprised of four groups, but will reorganize as one air expeditionary group, remaining at KAF, and reporting to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.
“As the Afghan National Security Forces take the security lead at an increasing rate, (International Security Assistance Force) is reducing the footprint of troops, basing and equipment,” said Col. Joel Carey, 451st AEW vice commander. “The reorganization of the 451st AEW into a smaller group is just part of the larger U.S. drawdown and is enabled by the growing capabilities of the government of Afghanistan and ANSF to assume responsibility for nationwide security.”
The group remaining at KAF following the deactivation will continue to provide surveillance and reconnaissance, and command and control.
“The 451st AEW deactivation is a small, but significant portion of the retrograde,” said Carey. “This wing has contributed greatly to the coalition’s mission in Afghanistan over the years through the effort and sacrifice of many amazing Airmen; so seeing the flag fold in January will be a little bittersweet. However, while we downsize our footprint and return many of our Airmen to their families, the new AEG will continue to support the security and sovereignty of Afghanistan.”
The 451st Air Expeditionary Group was first activated on May 3, 2002, at KAF, as part of the Global War on Terrorism, according the Mark Howell, 451st AEW historian. The group was responsible for air control of the southern region of Afghanistan. On July 2, 2009, the group became the 451st AEW because of its size and the requirements of the U.S. Air Force mission at KAF.
The roots of the 451st prior to the Global War on Terrorism can be traced to World War II, according to Howell. The 451st Bombardment Group was activated as a B-24 Liberator unit on May 1, 1943.
Since becoming a wing in 2009, the 451st has posted sortie numbers passing the 100,000 mark. Some of the assigned aircraft contributing to the sortie numbers include the F-16 Fighting Falcon, C-130 Hercules, HH-60 Pave Hawk, E-11A BACN, MQ-1B Predator and MQ-9 Reaper.