US Air Forces Central Command realigns aircraft and airmen to Kandahar Airfield

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar (AFNS) -- U.S. Air Forces Central Command has realigned aircraft, Airmen and assets to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, to support increased airpower requirements of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces and U.S. forces tasked to carry out the South Asia Policy under Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and the Resolute Support Mission.

The new strategy and its supporting strategic air campaign, ongoing ANDSF and counter-terrorism operations, and the scheduled arrival of a U.S. Army Security Force Assistance Brigade, all requires an increase in Air Force capabilities in multiple mission sets to include close air support, personnel recovery, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

“As we’ve applied increased pressure on the Taliban and their revenue sources with precision airpower, we’ve gained considerable momentum in our effort to force them to reconcile or face defeat,” said Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, U.S. AFCENT commander. “As U.S. advisors move closer to the front lines in support of our Afghan partners, this additional airpower will give them the decisive advantage necessary to advance with confidence.”

The additional aircraft and Airmen will fall under the geographically separated host-unit, the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, located at Bagram Airfield.

In support of the increased requirement for additional close air support, the 303rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, arrived Jan. 19, 2018, and flew their first mission within 24 hours of landing at Kandahar. The Air Force Reserve unit was previously scheduled to replace the A-10s operating out of Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

In addition to the arrival of the 303rd EFS’s A-10s, AFCENT has also realigned MQ-9s and HH-60Gs to KAF from other deployed locations in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

In anticipation of the KAF build up, AFCENT Airmen from the 1st Expeditionary Civil Engineering Group’s Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force and Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer squadrons rapidly built more than a dozen structures to accommodate the arrival of additional Airmen, assets and aircraft.

Additionally, deployed mobility Airmen worked tirelessly to transport more than 3,500 short tons of intra-theater supplies and material and relocated support equipment and defense systems to ensure Airmen and aircraft could effectively and safely operate from KAF.