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85th Group [85th GP]

The U.S. Air Force's 85th Group inactivated during a one-hour, formal ceremony 28 June 2006. The 85th Group had been responsible for day-to-day flight operations of HH-60 helicopters, KC-135 tankers and F-15 fighter jets since 1994. The event honored the historic and current achievements of the 85th Group and will close with the relinquishing of command of the 85th Group commander, Col. Phillip Gibbons, and encasement of the group colors. Brig. Gen. Robert Steel, commander of the 48th Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath, England, presided over the ceremony. This event commemorated 55 years of cooperation between the U.S. Air Force in Iceland and the Icelandic Defense Forces.

The 85th Group was the U.S. Air Force component in Iceland. As a component of U.S. Joint Forces Command's (USJFCOM) Iceland Defense Force (IDF), the 85th Group was a tenant unit of U.S. Naval Air Station (NAS) Keflavk, strategically located on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) base in the southwest corner of Iceland.

The 85th Group was an Independent Group comprised of seven squadrons and 13 staff agencies. The group reported administratively to Eighth Air Force, a component of Air Combat Command (ACC). Operationally, the group is assigned to the Iceland Defense Force (IDF) as part of Island Command Iceland.

As the "Guardians of the North," the 85th Group was responsible for deterring aggression in the North Atlantic, protecting Iceland's airspace and supporting contingency operations. This was accomplished through world-class surveillance, air superiority and the use of rescue assets. The 85th Group is responsible for deterring aggression in the North Atlantic and protecting Iceland's airspace. It also supported contingency operations through surveillance, air superiority and rescue forces.

Air superiority was provided by the 57th Fighter Squadron, an element of the 85th, from November 1954 until it was inactivated in March 1995. Today, the vital air defense mission is carried out by F-15 Eagle fighter aircraft of deployed temporary duty units rotating every 90 days to Iceland. While deployed to Keflavik, the F-15s are under the operational control of the 85th Operations Squadron (OS).

The 85th Operations Squadron (OS) was the air arm of the Iceland Defense Force and sole provider of Iceland's air sovereignty. It executes USACOM tasking for rotational F-15, KC-135, and HC-130 assets. It provided operational control, intelligence, total force management and maintenance of all U.S. Air Force combat aircraft in Iceland. It also provided all aerospace intelligence to IDF. Maintains organizational infrastructure and assets for U.S. Air Force contingency operations.

Additionally, the 85th OS's Tanker Flight oversaw the operations of deployed KC-135 Stratotanker and HC-130 Hercules refueling aircraft. Using four ground-based radars and occasionally AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) aircraft, the 85th Group's 932nd Air Control Squadron provided air surveillance of Iceland and the North Atlantic, referred to as the Military Air Defense Identification Zone (MADIZ).

The 56th Rescue Squadron performed the rescue function for the 85th Group. Using HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters, the 56th was responsible for combat rescue and reaction force response through insertion, extraction, and recovery of NATO combatants. Also known as "The Northern Lifesavers," the 56th provided continuous peacetime alert with long-range rescue capability for an area encompassing more than one million square miles and extending to the North Pole. More than 290 lives had been saved since 1971 by the 56th and its predecessor, Detachment 14, 67th Aerospace and Recovery Squadron.

85TH CIVIL ENGINEER SQUADRON (85TH CES) provided overall mission support, integration and services support for all 85th Group units in liaison with the host-Navy installation in areas of construction, facilities maintenance, disaster preparedness, food services, mortuary affairs, honor guard and cycle ergometry. Supports 680 personnel, six dormitories and 124 facilities. Operates two dining facilities and a structural maintenance and repair team.

85TH LOGISTICS SQUADRON (85THLS) provided combat capable F-15C/D, HH-60, HC-130, and KC-135 aircraft intermediate support through reliable, customer-oriented logistics to include transportation, supply, passenger services, aircraft maintenance, munitions and contingency planning for the 85th Group, TDY units and NATO community.

85TH MISSION SUPPORT SQUADRON (85TH MSS) provided direct support to more than 675 Air Force personnel and their family members in the areas of military personnel, information management, education and training, communications-computer systems, Transition Assistance Program, Suggestion Program and group staff agencies.

85TH SECURITY POLICE SQUADRON (85TH SPS) provided security for F-15, HH-60 and tanker aircraft assets; transient aircraft; selected NATO aircraft; and the Iceland Region Operations Control Center. It administered information security, personnel security, resource protection and anti-terrorism programs for the 85th Group, and integrated into the Ground Defense Battalion to provide protection for the NATO base, flying units and a remote air defense site.

932ND AIR CONTROL SQUADRON (932ND ACS) was responsible for the detection and identification of all aircraft within the Iceland Military Air Defense Identification Zone. It controled and coordinated the employment of assigned air defense forces to include fighter, tanker, and air/ground surveillance systems. Coordinates with USACOM, NORAD and NATO command and control units and reports unidentified air traffic to the NCA.

ARMED FORCES BROADCASTING SERVICE, DETACHMENT 5 was the administrative title of the command to which Air Force personnel attached to Naval Media Center Broadcasting Detachment Keflavik were assigned. Headquarterd at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas.



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