U.S. Air Forces Central Command has stood up the Expeditionary Theater Support Group at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, to provide expeditionary logistics, sustainment and engineering support for more effective warfighting missions.
“The threat environment facing us today is no longer dominated by terrorists or violent extremist organizations,” said Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, AFCENT commander and head of the Combined Forces Air Component for U.S. Central Command. “But there are other threats in this region, and we must be ready to face them as well. The ETSG represents a critical evolution in AFCENT’s warfighting capabilities to address these emerging threats.”
During a meeting with reporters earlier this year, Grynkewich said his focus had shifted from extremist groups — although that remains a concern — to deterring Iran’s nuclear program and thwarting the proxy groups that receive advanced conventional weapons and training from Iran. Tehran has turned its attention to attacking U.S. and coalition forces in Syria, and possibly mounting offensives at sea and on the region’s oil infrastructure, he added.
Ar a July 3 event at Al Udeid to celebrate the creation of the ETSG and to commemorate a change of command, Grynkewich said these threats required a new and innovative approach, and a “way to ensure we could generate airpower whenever and wherever needed.”
The ETSG will advance U.S. goals in the region by combining elements of AFCENT’s existing logistics, sustainment and engineering units to provide a more agile and responsive support capability, he said. Since its creation in March, it has already successfully conducted missions across 12 bases in eight countries.
The unit, which Grynkewich described as an echelon above wing support capability, includes airmen from 19 different Air Force Specialty Codes.
During the July 3 event, Col. Glenn Cameron took command of the ETSG from Col. Anthony Figiera, who oversaw its formation.
“The ETSG is an organization that will help us fight the next war,” Figiera said. “It’s about agile combat employment. This group is focused on campaigning — setting the theater, providing capabilities and resources — but can swiftly transition from theater campaigning into operations execution.”
The ETSG’s ability to make swift use of vital capabilities where they are in high demand will crucially impact the Air Force’s mission.
“This will be vital tomorrow as the ETSG works to ensure our theater is set for any future contingency operations,” Grynkewich said. “It will be essential in wartime, allowing us to execute agile combat employment by ensuring those locations have the logistics, engineering and communications infrastructure in place.”
Cameron, the unit’s new cmmander, “has the exact right background for this new and impactful command, and I’m excited to see what he and his team do next,” Grynkewich said.
Around 40,000 to 60,000 U.S. troops are deployed across CENTCOM, largely at military hubs in Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.
Roughly 2,500 Americans remain in Iraq to advise and assist local troops in keeping the Islamic State at bay — a job that often falls to the Iraqi air force.
Georgina DiNardo is an editorial fellow for Military Times and Defense News and a recent graduate of American University, specializing in journalism, psychology, and photography in Washington, D.C.