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Fairford gains responsibility of RAF Welford

US Air Forces in Europe News

Release Date: 11/04/2002

By Airman 1st Class Stacia Tieman

100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

ROYAL AIR FORCE MILDENHALL, England (USAFENS) -- RAF Welford has recently became the administrative responsibility of the 424th Air Base Squadron at RAF Fairford. The base's origins date back to World War II when its original purpose was as an operational training unit and post for the U.S. Air Force 92nd Bomber Group.

After World War II, the base remained open as a munitions storage area jointly used by American and British military. The base has steadily been used and morphed to suit a variety of military missions.

Now, the base's primary mission is to support the bomber forward operating location at RAF Fairford.

The base's proximity to RAF Fairford, western Europe's only bomber FOL, makes it a valuable piece of real estate, said Lt. Col. Max Rothman, 424th Air Base Squadron commander. The base's accessibility to main highways and ports also increase the Air Force's strength and presence not only in the United Kingdom but also in Europe.

"The United States has been working to consolidate munitions storage into three main hubs throughout Europe," said Rothman. "RAF Welford is intended to serve as one of the three main storage locales."

The base's current manpower never goes above 75 Ministry of Defense and U.S. Air Force personnel. However, there are plans to renovate older buildings, which may open up manning capabilities.

Because of the limited manpower, it is not feasible to provide separate lodging and dining facilities. Instead, service members assigned there will make use of their parent base, RAF Fairford.

"Due to the small number of personnel presently needed to man the base, they do not require a full leadership structure," said Rothman. "Therefore, all people assigned to Welford are stationed at Fairford and bused 38 miles to and from RAF Welford through a daily shuttle system provided by the base. RAF Welford is literally just a storage site," said Rothman.

RAF Fairford is a geographically separated unit of the 100th Air Refueling Wing here.

"It was important to have Col. (Donald) Lustig (100th ARW commander) visit," said Rothman. "We specifically wanted to show him the size and scope of our present operations and the expansion capability at RAF Welford since assuming full command of the base."

As the Royal Air Force has relinquished its joint command of RAF Welford, the U.S. has assumed not only responsibility of the base, but also the responsibility of maintaining a major military munitions storage annex in Europe.

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