ALI AL SALEM AIR BASE, Kuwait --
The 407th Air Expeditionary Group was inactivated during a ceremony at the base theater June 30, 2022.
This was the final group level inactivation ceremony for the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing as it shifted from the expeditionary group construct to the Air Staff model.
“While the new A-staff construct will certainly be different,” said Col. Clinton Wilson, commander, 386th AEW, “I'm fully confident that the men and women of the 407th will continue to play a vital role in the execution of the U.S. Central Command mission by providing outstanding intelligence airfield operations, medical evacuation, tactical airlift, persistent attack and intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Wilson continued to highlight the accomplishments of Col. Jason R. Barnes, outgoing commander, 407th Air Expeditionary Group.
“J.B., the body of work that you and your Airmen in the 407th AEG have put together over the last 12 months is really impressive,” said Wilson. “If I were to sum up the year with a single word to capture your year in command, I would use teamwork.”
During the escalation up to the Afghanistan retrograde, Barnes teamed up with the United States Marine Corps to receive, stage and prepare for the forward deployment of roughly 800 United States Marines.
Barnes’ 407th Security Forces Squadron at Al Jaber Air Base taught the Marines airfield and perimeter security that later enabled the evacuation of 124,000 American citizens, green card holders and special immigrant visa applicants to safety. In return, the Marines taught the Airmen hand to hand combatives and other highly valuable skills.
“When the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit returned from Afghanistan, having lost 11 Marines, a Navy corpsman and a soldier, you offered them much needed mental health care [from AASAB] to the affected units,” said Wilson.
Barnes provided them space, rest and relaxation and support for about three weeks prior to their return home. Barnes’ team then took on the task of closing AJAB.
In addition, Barnes teamed up with 386th Expeditionary Mission Support Group members and U.S. Air Forces Central staff to ensure AJAB was postured to quickly reopen should the need arise.
During the largest noncombatant evacuation in history, Barnes’ tower and airfield operations team worked tirelessly to ensure safe ground and flight operations. His team liaised with Kuwaiti, Canadian, Danish, Italian and other partners and tripled the C-17 Globemaster III parking capacity during the height of the airlift operation.
“The most impressive testament to your team building acumen was evident in your partnership with maintenance,” said Wilson. “Under your leadership, the operations and maintenance bond you built was as strong as any I've seen in 24 years of service. As you transition to be the senior military advisor to the Department of State in Washington, D.C., the Air Force and the State Department couldn't pick the more capable leader for that position.”
Wilson presented the Legion of Merit to Barnes.
Barnes thanked and praised his teammates and wing leadership for their mentorship, compassion, and never-ending drive to make the team better over the last year. He also thanked coalition partners on how great of an honor it was to serve alongside them each and every day.
“This daily practice of team unity breaks barriers and paves the way for future collaborative training and operations,” said Barnes. “I cherish our friendship and hope to cross paths again in the years to come.”
Barnes thanked Wilson for presiding, and for his leadership, mentorship and friendship.
“I cherish the time and guidance you provided,” said Barnes. “You gave us the trust, confidence and support to wrestle and succeed through the unexpected. The strong relationships and synergized efforts across your groups are a testament to your leadership. You set the course and let us inspire and challenge our teams to develop the ways and means to get us there. Because of that our Airmen achieved greatness.”
Under Barnes’ guidance, the 407th AEG executed over 7,000 persistent intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, tactical and aeromedical airlift missions, transporting over 46,850 short tons of cargo, 85,000 passengers and delivering 21,000 hours of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
“I would like to leave you with this idea. On our [407th AEG] patch is a bow and arrow and shield. It's a reminder it takes a team comprising multiple skills, working in harmony to defend and protect and project power. And whether it's symbolized by the feathers hanging from our shield, or the stones Marauder sits on shown on the Wing’s patch, it's you—our squadrons of unbelievable Airmen who are part of an endless unbreakable chain. And at any given day someone is supporting you and you are supporting another. So continue to lead well, challenge yourselves and one another and know your impacts will be felt across the area of responsibility for years to come. Thank you.”