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American Forces Press Service

Wing Rotates More Than 700 Airmen

By Capt. Catie Hague, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Jan. 27, 2005 -- Air Expeditionary Force Rotations 1 and 2 "turns on final," as about 700 airmen assigned to AEF Rotations 3 and 4 are slated to hit the ground here in coming weeks.

The new team will deploy through May. "Our airmen are coming from all over," said Air Force Col. Derrick Hoxie, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing deputy commander. "They've got various specialties, which they must now transfer to the battle rhythm of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"The goal for AEF 3/4 is a successful deployment - both personal and operational," he said. "As for the mission, the AEW will continue to provide aerial support and protection for the coalition effort on the ground, specifically in support of the upcoming regional and provincial elections in the spring."

"We have 254 people coming in with the A-10s," said Air Force Col. Warren Henderson, 455th Expeditionary Operations Group commander. "In order to ensure there's continuing close-air support available throughout the AEF swap-out, the current operations team will remain in place until the new aviation package has arrived."

The operations group, made up of flyers and maintainers, is deploying as a unit from Pope Air Force Base, N.C. "Under the AEW, we'll be divided into two groups - operations and maintenance - where we'll work closely to accomplish the day- to-day flying mission," Henderson said. "Our A-10s will provide close-air support to the Army and other government agencies involved with inspections, convoys, (distinguished visitor) escorts, border crossings and policing efforts."

While the No. 1 job of the 455th is to provide "first-rate, on-time support" to the troops on the ground, the focus of AEF 3 and 4 will be to leave the Army- run airfield in better condition than it is today.

"We need to get out of the temporary mindset and focus on sustainment," said Air Force Col. Rita Meyer, 455th Expeditionary Mission Support Group commander.

"We've got a number of projects in the works," added Meyer, "like the continuation of airfield improvements, the streamlining of air cargo ops, and the rebuilding of shower and latrine facilities. Limited numbers of living huts are another issue being worked. And there will be some personnel and work- center moves in order to round out the site plan."

Hoxie had guidance for the incoming airmen: "Pull out your tools . you're gonna use 'em."

(Air Force Capt. Catie Hague is assigned to 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs.)

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