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386th Expeditionary Mission Support Group inactivates

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Natalie Filzen
  • 386 AEW Public Affairs

The 386th Expeditionary Mission Support Group was the third group to inactivate as the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing moves from the expeditionary group construct toward the Air Staff model. Col. John Gustafson relinquished his command June 22, 2022, memorializing the valor of the Airmen who have served the group over the past 20 years.

“The United States faces an increasingly complex global security environment characterized by overt challenges to the international order and reemergence of long-term strategic competition,” said Col. Wilson, commander of the 386th AEW. “The A-staff construct improves the execution of operational and administrative responsibilities, increases synchronization for crisis and contested conditions and better aligns with our joint partners, who already use similarly organized headquarters structures.”

Gustafson’s legacy and leadership was highlighted by his various accomplishments in defending and improving the installation for airmen and coalition partners, executed by his six units.

“Your defenders staffed and operated the largest fly-away security team program in the [U.S. Central Command area of responsibility],” said Wilson. “They ran to the sound of the guns by sending eight team members into Kabul International Airport to provide flight line and personnel transfer security during the largest noncombatant evacuation operation in the history of the world.”

In addition to his projection of combat power, the contracting squadron under Gustafson’s command funded new facilities and equipment, while the civil engineer squadron overcame the construction backlog, managing over 40 projects throughout the year. During this time, Gustafson also facilitated strengthening partnerships with the host nation and joint and coalition forces.

“The 386th Logistics Readiness Squadron supported regular Kuwaiti C-17 uploads and downloads,” said Wilson. “Explosive ordnance disposal answered the call when our host nation discovered unexploded ordnance in the middle of the desert. And your contracting squadron established a quarterly vendor day to educate local vendors on the complex department of defense contracting process, enabling them to better support our base.”

Gustafson led over 3,600 Total Force Airmen across three deployment rotations at three operating locations and guided U.S. Central Command’s busiest aerial port, moving over 80,000 passengers and nearly 60,000 tons of cargo.

“The 386th has a strong tradition of honor, tracing our lineage back to 386th Bombardment Group when it was established on November 25, 1942,” said Gustafson. “In World War II, 386th deployed to England initially under the mighty 8th Air Force and started flying combat missions in September of 1943. The group was then transferred to 9th Air Force where they participated in a number of decisive air campaigns to include D-Day and follow on missions to help liberate Europe.”

While the historic bombardment group was initially inactivated on November 7, 1945, it was reactivated on August 12, 2002, when the Air Force stood up the 386th designation as an air expeditionary wing, establishing the 386th EMSG under it.

Over two decades, the 386th EMSG provided base operating support integrator functions to Ali Al Salem Air Base.

“Civil engineers, logisticians, defenders, force support, cyber and contracting airmen have served countless hours executing the mission from combat convoys, to theater gateway operations, sending forces into Afghanistan in Iraq, to retrograde operations, bringing forces out of Iraq, and then Afghanistan to most recently being a crucial intermediate staging bait space for the largest noncombatant evacuation history,” said Gustafson.

“Until today, all these units were under the 386th EMSG,” said Gustafson. “But the world is changing and our senior leaders recognize it. General Brown makes it clear that the Air Force must adapt to this change. Today, we accelerate that change as we inactivate the 386th EMSG and stand up another key piece of the Wing’s new A-staff. It's time for new processes and innovative thinking to continue the development of agile combat employment and the ability to support it. During this change, I know this Wing will continue its legacy of high performance, because even though the group has gone, our six squadrons [and airmen] will remain the same.”