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363rd Air Expeditionary Wing

The 363rd Air Expeditionary Wing was inactivated in the summer of 2003 during a ceremony that also saw the transfer of control of portions of Prince Sultan Air Base back the control of the Saudi Arabian government on 26 August 2003.

The 363rd Air Expeditionary Wing hosted all units deployed to Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia. The Wing also controlled additional groups at other operating locations in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The unit was activated on 1 December 1998, concurrent with the inactivation of the 4404th Wing (Provisional). In addition, the units subordinate to the 4404th Wing, with the exception of the 9th Air Expeditionary Group, were inactivated and new units activated in their place.

Following the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003, US forces began to pull out of Prince Sultan Air Base. On 28 April 2003, the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) was shifted from Prince Sultan Air Base to Al-Udeid in Qatar. On 29 April 2003, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced that US forces would begin pulling out of Saudi Arabia and that forces in the country would be diverted to other locations. Rear Admiral David Nichols, the deputy commander of the CAOC stated that much of the assets associated with the 363rd Air Expeditionary Wing would be relocated by the end of summer 2003.

In 2002, the 9th Air Expeditionary Group was inactivated and replaced at Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait by the 386th Air Expeditionary Group. The new group continued supporting Operation Southern Watch and regional contingencies out of Ali Al Salem Air Base. The 386th Air Expeditionary Group was assigned to the 363rd Air Expeditionary Wing.

The 363rd Air Expeditionary Wing completed its last operational mission supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom on 28 May 2003, completing a 13-year, continuous mission. An E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System deployed to the 363rd Expeditionary Airborne Air Control Squadron from Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma flew the Wing's last operational mission supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.




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