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451st Air Expeditionary Wing
451st Air Expeditionary Group

The 451st Air Expeditionary Wing provides a persistent and powerful airpower presence in the Afghanistan area of operations, to include tactical airlift, close air support, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, command and control, airborne datalink, combat search and rescue, casualty evacuation and aeromedical evacuation capabilities whenever and wherever needed. The 451st Air Expeditionary Wing is located at Kandahar Airfield, Kandahar International Airport, which is located 10 miles south-east of Kandahar City in Afghanistan. Kandahar Airfield is home to a large NATO contingent with more than 40 countries represented on the base. The Wing consists of the 451st Expeditionary Operations Group, 451st Expeditionary Maintenance Group, and the 451st Expeditionary Mission Support Group. The Wing is also assigned the 651st Air Expeditionary Group.

The 451st Air Expeditionary Wing traces its roots back to the 451st Bombardment Group (Heavy), which was activted as a B-24 Liberator heavy bombardment unit assigned to II Bomber Command for training on 1 May 1943. The unit initially deployed to Southern Italy in January 1944 and entered combat in January 1944, assigned to Fifteenth Air Force. After air echelon training in Algeria for several weeks before joining the remainder of the group in Italy, the group engaged in very long range strategic bombing missions to enemy military, industrial and transportation targets in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia.

The 451st Air Expeditionary Wing was activated in 2002 as the 451st Air Expeditionary Group as part of the Global War on Terrorism, conducting operations from Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. The group was responsible for air control of the southern region of Afghanistan, launch and recovery operations for the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper aircraft, the employment of combat search and rescue forces throughout the entire country, and ground security and defense of the airfield. Included in the group were safety, logistics, communications, civil engineer elements. Due to the growth in size and requirements of the USAF mission at Kandahar, the 451st Air Expeditionary Group was enlarged to a wing-level organization, redesignated as the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing, and activated as such on 2 July 2009.

On 29 June 2011, the 651st Air Expeditionary Group was activated and assigned to the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing. The 651st Air Expeditionary Group took over responsibility for search and rescue operations at Kandahar Air Field and at Camp Bastion (also referred to as Forward Operating Base Bastion).




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