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Aviano AEW gets new designation, new commander

US Air Forces in Europe News

Release Date: 6/16/2003

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy (USAFENS) - U. S. Air Forces in Europe's first Air Expeditionary Wing has a new designation, and a new commander as of June 12.

Col. Joseph A. Abbott took command of the 401st AEW from Col. Terry L. New in a ceremony presided over by Lt. Gen. Glen W. Moorhead, 16th Air Force Commander.

Moorhead said it was a great day for Aviano Air Base, Italy, the two wings and two warriors.

"It takes a special leader to guide an organization when the spotlight is in other parts of the world," said Moorhead. He praised New for his work during the past two years, and said they had chosen carefully when determining the next leader of the organization so the flag would pass from one great leader and warrior to another.

Abbott said he felt lucky to have landed the wing commander job, something hard to imagine when his father, Lt. Col.(Ret). Dean Abbott, pinned his wings on him 22 years ago. It's a job he is proud to have.

"Expeditionary is the way and future of our Air Force," said Abbott, a command pilot with more than 2,600 flying hours. "My goal is to set even higher standards for what is now the 401st AEW, and build upon the great work that has already been done."

The 16th AEW was deactivated to eliminate an overlap in heraldry with the 16th Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Fla.

The 401st AEW was activated at Aviano AB in its place, and assumes the responsibility of the 16th AEW mission. The 401st Fighter Wing operated at Aviano AB from 1992 to 1994, and before that at Torrejon Air Base, Spain. For that reason, and because of its rich history in the USAFE theater, the unit was a natural fit to assume the 16th AEW mission. It recently added to that lineage in Operation Iraqi Freedom, where it stood up as the 401st AEW, at a forward operating location in the Mediterranean as the largest aerial refueling operation supporting the war with more than 1,300 people, more than 30 KC-135s, and other support aircraft.

In its new role, the 401st AEW will be responsible for seven units in five countries supporting the NATO Stabilization Force, Operation Joint Forge, and Kosovo Force, Operation Joint Guardian. It provides command, control, continuity and administrative accountability for Air Force personnel deployed in support of the peacekeeping mission in the Balkans.

Abbott comes to the 401st AEW from "across the street" at Aviano Air Base, where he has been the commander of the 31st Mission Support Group for the past two years. In that capacity, he was responsible for the support and logistics functions spanning seven squadrons at Aviano, a RED HORSE flight in central Italy, the air base squadron at Moron, Spain, and 20 geographically separated units throughout Europe.

New turns over the reins after commanding the unit for the past two years. He's moving on to Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., to be director of operations for the Air Warfare Center.

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