OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM (AFPN) -- About 150 people and eight A-10 Thunderbolt IIs deployed to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, from Spangdahlem AB, Germany, to stand guard and support Operation Enduring Freedom and the war on terrorism.
Spangdahlem’s people are taking over combat operations from the Maryland Air National Guard’s 104th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, which has been deployed to Bagram AB since Jan. 8.
This is not the first deployment for Spangdahlem’s A-10s, but this is the first time they have been in Afghanistan, said Lt. Col. Pat Malackowski, the new 455th Expeditionary Operations Group deputy commander here.
“We were prepared to deploy to Operation Iraqi Freedom, and were on a prepare-to-deploy order for four and a half months,” he said. “We never did deploy, so when (the) order came down for (Afghanistan), we were excited and ready to mobilize, generate and deploy.”
Bagram AB is host to Combined Joint Task Force 180, which is the international coalition of forces responsible for stability and security operations in Afghanistan.
“Our mission at Bagram is to kill, capture and deny sanctuary to al-Qaida and Taliban and provide humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people,” said Col. Bill Busby, 455th Expeditionary Operations Group commander. “I am confident that the 81st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron will help us take the fight to these terrorists and in so doing, significantly reduce the terrorist threat back home and around the world.”
Part of the mission is to support U.S. and coalition forces deployed throughout the country here, Malackowski said.
“We feel that we’re experts on providing close-air support and airpower for the air component commander, ground forces commander, and airpower to CJTF-180,” he said.
To prepare for the close-air mission here, Malackowski said the pilots reviewed information about the terrain in Afghanistan and learned about the rules of engagement for the operational tasking of OEF.
One of the goals for the deployment is to gain experience, Malackowski said.
“I hope to get the 52nd Fighter Wing people experienced in the operational task safely and effectively,” he said.