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Keeping the predator hunting
Airmen assigned to the 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, assemble a MQ-1 Predator after returning from Afghanistan here May 19, 2008. The six images on the side of the MQ-1 Predator symbolizes the number of hell fires shot while in combat. (U.S. Air Force Photo by/Senior Airman Larry E. Reid Jr.)
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432nd becomes Air Expeditionary Wing

Posted 6/2/2008   Updated 6/2/2008 Email story   Print story


by Capt. Ed Ekpoudom
432nd Wing Public Affairs

6/2/2008 - CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (ACCNS) -- The 432nd Wing here was designated an air expeditionary wing according to orders issued by Air Combat Command earlier this month.

The wing will now have dual reporting responsibilities to 9th Air Force and U.S. Air Forces Central at Shaw AFB, S.C., as well as to 12th Air Force and U.S. Air Forces Southern at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.

The wing remains the Air Force's primary training installation for unmanned aircraft systems pilots, sensor operators and maintenance personnel. That mission will remain under the purview of 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern).

"Our MQ-1 and MQ-9 crew training is the key enabler allowing us and our (Air Force Special Operations Command), British, and Air National Guard partners to execute our combat mission," said Col. Chris Chambliss, 432nd AEW commander. "Standing up the AEW will not detract one bit from our training requirement."

The 432nd Wing's 15th Reconnaissance Squadron first deployed MQ-1 Predators in support of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom, respectively, in 2004. Since then, six additional combat squadrons, including four distributed ANG units, have been activated. The 15th RS, later the 15th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, had maintained operational control of the combat air patrols flown by these units.

"The combination of three active-duty and four ANG units, as well as AFSOC and our British coalition partners, all executing daily combat missions in support of CENTCOM, had grown beyond the appropriate scope of the original mandate," said Colonel Chambliss. "Our Air Force leadership concluded that an expeditionary wing structure was needed to control these missions, synchronize efforts and be responsible to the 9th (Air Expeditionary Task Force) commander."

The wing's maintenance operations and organization will also be affected by the designation, said Colonel Chambliss.

"There had never been a provision for command and control of continental United States maintenance support," said Colonel Chambliss. "While some maintainers have been deploying forward as attached expeditionary units that support launching and recovering MQ-1 and MQ-9 combat missions, many more remain here to maintain the equipment used to execute the (Remote Split Operations) mission. These maintainers will now be directly aligned to our expeditionary mission."

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