Secretary Austin Visits Al Dhafra Air Base Published Nov. 22, 2021 By Master Sgt. Daniel Heaton 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates -- U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III visited Al Dahfra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates on Nov. 22, as part of a multi-day swing through the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility in Southwest Asia. In a meeting with Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines deployed to the base, Austin stated that the capabilities of the various mission sets represented at Al Dhafra play an important role in the region. “But what really makes a difference are the ambassadors like yourselves,” the secretary said. Brig. Gen. Andrew M. Clark, commander of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing at Al Dahfra said the secretary’s visits and remarks underscores the mission being performed at the base. “The 380th AEW, alongside our joint mission partners, plays a critical role in defending and stabilizing the region while simultaneously deterring our adversaries,” Clark said. “The secretary’s visit emphasizes our commitment to the UAE and the region; it also affords a unique and high-profile opportunity to recognize our high-performance Airmen.” During his interaction with troops at the base, Austin presented challenge coins to several service members, recognizing superior performance. “Never in a million years did I think I would be standing in front of the secretary of defense,” said Staff Sgt. Riann Kingrey, who works in the intelligence cell of the 380th Expeditionary Operations Group and received a coin from the secretary. “Staff Sgt. Kingrey has performed at the highest level, serving in multiple positions to ensure our air crews have the intelligence they need to complete their mission,” said Col. Michael Lake, 380 EOG commander. The secretary’s visit came at the start of the Thanksgiving week and he expressed his personal gratitude for the sacrifices made by the deployed personal at Al Dhafra. “I’m really proud of you and so very grateful for all you do. And your families need to hear how grateful we are,” Austin said. The 380th Air Expeditionary Wing supports contingency operations in Central Command's 27-country Southwest Asia area of responsibility. The wing maintains multiple aircraft in order to provide combat air power in joint and combined aerospace operations with Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coalition forces. Secretary of Defense arrives in UAE Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III deplanes at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 22, 2021. Austin Traveled to the UAE to meet with senior government officials to reaffirm the US-UAE strategic partnership. Photo Details / Download Hi-Res Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III deplanes at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 22, 2021. Austin Traveled to the UAE to meet with senior government officials to reaffirm the US-UAE strategic partnership.