BAGRAM AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN --
Brig. Gen. Craig Baker relinquished command of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing during a ceremony here June 6.
Maj. Gen. Barre Seguin, 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force—Afghanistan commander, officiated the almost 250 year-old military tradition which included Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines from both the U.S. and coalition partners.
“Congratulations to [Brigadier Gen. Baker] for the tremendous weight he’s carried on his shoulders for the last year as we’ve implemented our president’s Southwest Asia policy here in Afghanistan and pressured the enemy,” said Seguin.
Throughout his tenure, Baker achieved many endeavors, not only for Bagram Airfield, but the surrounding area of responsibility [AOR] as well. Some of his achievements include leading the sole combat air wing while personally exposed to hostile action involving multiple indirect fire attacks in Afghanistan.
As the Senior Airfield Authority for three DoD combat logistics hubs, Baker led a fighting unit of more than 3,400 Airmen that executed complex daily Air Tasking Orders, generating 22,200 combat sorties and delivering 3,300 guided munitions in support of 185 troops-in-contact events.
Seguin stated, “Your team’s accomplishments have been spectacular under your leadership, contributing to our nation’s effort to defeat terrorists.”
In a span of only 90 days, Baker masterminded a bed-down of 24 aircraft and more than 600 personnel at Kandahar Airfield, increasing flight operation by 30 percent to support a ramp-up of enemy strikes and the Train, Advise and Assist campaign. As commander of two aerial ports of delivery, he coordinated 7,077 airlift missions to transport 148,400 personnel and 105,400 tons of cargo.
Throughout his tenure, Baker maintained his humility.
“Being a combat wing commander is the best assignment you will ever have. It’s the Superbowl over here,” he said. “Back home you’re training, over here, its combat and it’s for real.”
Baker left with a few words for the Vultures.
“To the airmen and families of the 455th, it has been an indescribable honor and privilege to be your wing commander. I have never seen the level of cooperation, unity and vision, effort and teamwork than I have in the last year; And in combat, this is no fail,” he said. “The nation and Afghanistan are counting on us. This doesn’t just happen. It happens because of your leadership and the example you set for each other.”
“You are known throughout the Air Force, in fact throughout the world, as the very best. You set the standard for excellence expected of our Airmen and are an astounding array of 21st century combat air power,” Baker concluded. “There’s nothing more inspiring than leading a team through combat.”
Vultures! Lead the way.