AFCENT Air Warfare Center changes command Published July 15, 2022 By TSgt Jeffrey Grossi 380 AWEW ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates -- The Ninth Air Force (Air Forces Central) Air Warfare Center held a change of command ceremony July 15, 2022, at Erth Hotel, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Col. Jordan G. Grant, the previous commander of AFCENT AWC passed the guidon to Lt. Col Kevin Walsh. Grant took command of the AFCENT AWC in June of 2020, during the initial stages of the coronavirus pandemic, when he became responsible for 36 Airmen and Soldiers. As commander, Grant was tasked with enhancing regional defense partnerships and contributing to the readiness of U.S. and partner air dominance forces. During that time, Grant oversaw 15 major exercises and led the AWC in its role in the largest non-combative evacuation operation in U.S. history. “Your role was significant,” said Lt. Gen. Gregory M. Guillot, commander of Ninth Air Force (Air Forces Central) through a pre-recorded video. “The overall operation included the evacuation of more than 124,000 evacuees in an impressive 17 days. You gave evacuees their first glimpse of hope and opportunity when just days prior, they had none.” Due to his exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services, Grant was awarded the Legion of Merit. Grant will continue to serve in the U.S. Air Force and train the next generation of warfighters as vice commander of the 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Walsh comes to the AFCENT AWC after serving on the Joint Staff, Nuclear Strike Branch of the Nuclear Operation Division, while assigned to the Pentagon, Washington D.C. Walsh has formal training as an F-16 pilot and attended the USAF Weapons School. He has instructed and evaluated nearly every mission set for both U.S. and European F-16s. After obtaining this elite level of experience, Walsh was tasked to command the Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron more publicly known as the “The Thunderbirds.” Walsh said that even though he has spent hundreds of hours in an F-16 at multiple duty stations and deployments, what he remembers most are the relationships he has made along the way. “It’s the friends we’ve made and the relationships we’ve kept that has sustained our over 20 years of service in the U.S. Air Force,” said Walsh. It's that idea that drove us to the Air Warfare Center because that’s what the mission is all about – building and solidifying relationships. There simply cannot be a greater and more fulfilling mission set out there.” Key leadership from the UAE Air Warfare Center and Air Operations Center, the Royal Saudi Air Force AWC and Joint Air Defense Operations School, U.S. Embassy and 380th Air Expeditionary Wing attended the event. Although the AFCENT AWC wasn’t officially activated until 2011, its concept of bringing a tactical leadership program to the Middle East originated in 2000. The intended mission was to increase the effectiveness of NATO Allied Air Forces through the bilateral development of leadership skills, mission planning and tactical air operations. In 2003, the Gulf AWC was created through the partnered efforts of the UAE Air Force and Air Defense Force, and the U.S. Department of Defense. In 2004, it held its first formal training program, the Advanced Tactical Leadership Course. Since its inception, ATLC, also known as Iron Falcon, has graduated more than 250 multinational mission commanders. The AFCENT AWC includes the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Center – a world class battle lab, capable of conducting training exercises focused on integrated air and missile defense with joint/coalition execution. While the AFCENT AWC ultimately promotes regional security and stability, it also improves the partnership capacity between participating Allied Air Forces. Combined, the U.S. and UAE AWCs are composed of approximately 120 multinational and multi service personnel from seven nations: Australia, France, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States. In 2021 the AWC established training detachments located in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Its continued focus – building partnership capacity and interoperability.