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451st Air Expeditionary Wing transitions to Group at Kandahar Airfield

Airmen from the newly designated 451st Air Expeditionary Group stand in formation during a transition ceremony at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 13, 2014. The 451st Air Expeditionary Wing was transitioned to an Air Expeditionary Group due to a change in mission.(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph Needham/Released)

Airmen from the newly designated 451st Air Expeditionary Group stand in formation during a transition ceremony at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 13, 2014. The 451st Air Expeditionary Wing was transitioned to an Air Expeditionary Group due to a change in mission.(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph Needham/Released)

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Malackowski, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing commander and Col. Scott Campbell, 451st Air Expeditionary Group commander, unfurl the new 451st AEG guidon in a transition ceremony at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 13, 2014. The 451st Air Expeditionary Wing was transitioned to an AEG due to a change in mission.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexandria Bandin/Released)

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Malackowski, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing commander and Col. Scott Campbell, 451st Air Expeditionary Group commander, unfurl the new 451st AEG guidon in a transition ceremony at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 13, 2014. The 451st Air Expeditionary Wing was transitioned to an AEG due to a change in mission.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexandria Bandin/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Scott Campbell, 451st Air Expeditionary Group commander, receives the new 451st AEG guidon from Brig. Gen. Patrick Malackowski, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing commander, in a transition ceremony at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 13, 2014. The 451st Air Expeditionary Wing was transitioned to an AEG due to a change in mission.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexandria Bandin/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Scott Campbell, 451st Air Expeditionary Group commander, receives the new 451st AEG guidon from Brig. Gen. Patrick Malackowski, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing commander, in a transition ceremony at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 13, 2014. The 451st Air Expeditionary Wing was transitioned to an AEG due to a change in mission.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexandria Bandin/Released)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, Commander, 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Afghanistan; Deputy Commander-Air, U.S. Force-Afghanistan; and Deputy Chief of Staff-Air, International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, receives the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing guidon from Brig. Gen. Michael Frantini, 451st AEW commander and Commander, Kandahar Airfield, in a transition ceremony at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 13, 2014. The 451st Air Expeditionary Wing was transitioned to an Air Expeditionary Group due to a change in mission.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexandria Bandin/Released)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, Commander, 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Afghanistan; Deputy Commander-Air, U.S. Force-Afghanistan; and Deputy Chief of Staff-Air, International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, receives the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing guidon from Brig. Gen. Michael Frantini, 451st AEW commander and Commander, Kandahar Airfield, in a transition ceremony at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 13, 2014. The 451st Air Expeditionary Wing was transitioned to an Air Expeditionary Group due to a change in mission.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexandria Bandin/Released)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, Commander, 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Afghanistan; Deputy Commander-Air, U.S. Force-Afghanistan; and Deputy Chief of Staff-Air, International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, furls the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing guidon with Brig. Gen. Michael Frantini, 451st AEW commander and Commander, Kandahar Airfield, in a transition ceremony at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 13, 2014. The 451st Air Expeditionary Wing was transitioned to an Air Expeditionary Group due to a change in mission.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexandria Bandin/Released)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, Commander, 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Afghanistan; Deputy Commander-Air, U.S. Force-Afghanistan; and Deputy Chief of Staff-Air, International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, furls the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing guidon with Brig. Gen. Michael Frantini, 451st AEW commander and Commander, Kandahar Airfield, in a transition ceremony at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 13, 2014. The 451st Air Expeditionary Wing was transitioned to an Air Expeditionary Group due to a change in mission.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexandria Bandin/Released)

Airmen from the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing furl the guidons of the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing in a transition ceremony at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 13, 2014. The 451st Air Expeditionary Wing was transitioned to an Air Expeditionary Group due to a change in mission.(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph Needham/Released)

Airmen from the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing furl the guidons of the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing in a transition ceremony at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 13, 2014. The 451st Air Expeditionary Wing was transitioned to an Air Expeditionary Group due to a change in mission.(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph Needham/Released)

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Malackowski, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing commander, salutes Col. Scott Campbell, 451st Air Expeditionary Group commander, in a transition ceremony at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 13, 2014. The 451st Air Expeditionary Wing was transitioned to an AEG due to a change in mission.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexandria Bandin/Released)

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Malackowski, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing commander, salutes Col. Scott Campbell, 451st Air Expeditionary Group commander, in a transition ceremony at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 13, 2014. The 451st Air Expeditionary Wing was transitioned to an AEG due to a change in mission.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexandria Bandin/Released)

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- The 451st Air Expeditionary Wing became the 451st Air Expeditionary Group during a ceremony at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 13, 2014.

Maj. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, Commander, 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Afghanistan; Deputy Commander-Air, U.S. Force-Afghanistan; and Deputy Chief of Staff-Air, International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, presided over the ceremony.

"From executing bombing missions in World War 2, to housing ICBMs during the height of the Cold War, and now to the War on Terror, it has been during a time of great need in our nation's history that the men and women of the 451st have answered our nation's call," said Wilsbach.

Multiple distinguished visitors and general officers, including Maj. Gen. Paul LaCamera, RC-South commander; Brig. Gen. Patrick Malackowski, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan; Brig. Gen. Michael Fantini, 451st AEW commander and Commander, Kandahar Airfield; Brig. Gen. John Michel, NATO Air Training Command commander, and Brig. Gen. John McMullen, Deputy Chief of Staff Operations, NATO Headquarters, Allied Air Command, were present.

"This wing has provided the means for peace in Afghanistan and has saved countless lives in the process," said Wilsbach. "Stand tall and be proud of your accomplishments. And whether you are a part of the 451st as a Wing or a Group, never forget the proud heritage that rests on your left shoulder."

During the ceremony, Gen. Malackowski handed leadership of the redesignated unit, 451st AEG, to Col. Scott Campbell.

The 451st Air Expeditionary Group was first activated on May 3, 2002, at KAF, as part of the Global War on Terrorism, according to Mark Howell, 451st AEW historian. The group was responsible for air control of the southern region of Afghanistan. On July 2, 2009, the group became the 451st AEW because of its size and the requirements of the U.S. Air Force mission at Kandahar Airfield.

"In the short four and a half years of its existence, the 451st AEW, you all here today, have flown over 111,160 sorties, accumulating a staggering 692,990 hours," said Wilsbach during a speech. "You have transported nearly a half a million personnel, delivered 505,300 tons of cargo, provided close air support to 1,985 troops-in-contact events, while rescuing 1,797 personnel from the battlefield."

Approximately 250 people from a variety of nations attended the ceremony.

(Capt. Jason Smith contributed to this story)