More from our special report:
U.S. Air Force units in Europe are strategically located to respond to crises, said Col. Kevin Fox, the strategy division chief for the Directorate of Plans, Programs and Analyses for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa.
■ The 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano Air Base, Italy, is the only U.S. fighter wing south of the Alps, ensuring combat power and support are ready to achieve NATO objectives. The wing launched more than 2,200 sorties during Operation Odyssey Dawn, the U.N. response to the 2011 crisis in Libya.
■ The 39th Air Base Wing, Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, is important in NATO’s Southern Region due to its proximity to many of the world’s potential trouble spots. The wing provides a staging area for air mobility operations and sustainment for forward-based air power. It moved large quantities of sustainment equipment into Afghanistan.
■ The 48th Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath, England, led U.S.European Command’s first full-spectrum rescue group and provided recovery operations within the Libya no-fly-zone in 2011. The wing also deployed thousands of airmen and completed more than 9,000 missions totaling 16,000 flying hours in support of 12 contingency operations in 2012.
■ The 52nd Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, has USAFE-AFAFRICA’s only Air Control Squadron, a self-contained mobile combat unit with more than 28 specialties providing theater battle management of joint and coalition aircraft.
■ The 65th Air Base Wing, Lajes Field, Azores, stores and employs the Air Force’s second largest fuel store, capable of holding 44.2 million gallons of fuel. The wing is also the world’s only mid-Atlantic military air base, supporting commercial in-flight emergencies with air traffic control and first responder capabilities.
■ The 86th Airlift Wing, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, provides combat airlift for the European and African theaters. The wing delivered personnel and supplies to Central African Republic in support of peacekeeping operations, as well as airlift for humanitarian support for displaced Egyptian citizens. The 86th also has an aeromedical evacuation squadron that transports and cares for injured service members from Afghanistan and other areas of operation.
■ The 100th Air Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England, provides aerial refueling to U.S. and allied aircraft over three continents. The wing supplied more than 15 million pounds of fuel to French peacekeeping operations over Mali in 2013. The 100th ARW last year flew 8,350 hours and offloaded 58.2 million pounds of fuel to more than 5,500 receiving aircraft.
■ The 435th Air Ground Operations Wing, Ramstein Air Base, supports battlefield airmen with expeditionary specialties like tactical air control, battlefield weather and contingency communications. Airmen of the 435th support contingency operations throughout Europe and Africa, a recent example being their support to Central African Republic airlift missions.
■ The 501st Combat Support Wing, RAF Croughton, England, enables information, communications and global strike operations in support of U.S. and NATO objectives worldwide.