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455th AEW commander, command chief visit Kandahar Airfield

  • Published
  • By Maj. Tony M. Wickman
  • 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Brig. Gen. Mark D. Kelly, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Jeffery Brown, 455th AEW command chief, visited the 451st Air Expeditionary Group at Kandahar Air Field, May 2-3 as part of a battlefield circulation tour to see Airmen and get updated on their ongoing missions.


The general and chief met with Airmen from across the group who provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, command and control, personnel recovery, and airborne datalink capabilities to commanders in the Afghanistan theater of operations. It was also an opportunity to personally thank Airmen for their service on the combat frontier, while also recognizing top performers.


"My visit was an opportunity to see and hear from our Airmen at Kandahar on what they are doing to deliver decisive airpower to support U.S., Coalition and ANDSF (Afghan National Defense and Security Forces), while also getting to recognize some of our top performers for their efforts," Kelly said. “As the wing commander, it's important to get out to where Airmen are operating to see how they are doing and what challenges they are facing.”


For Kelly, the visit also served as a chance to personally rejuvenate by engaging with Airmen.


“The visit was also an opportunity for me to recharge, because I got to get out of my office and be around Airmen who are delivering capabilities to the fight that are inherent to our Air Force. It's the best part of my job.” he said.


The chief agreed it was important to get out and see Airmen in their work and living spaces.


“We conducted a ‘Face Look’ visit with our proud, professional warrior Airmen located at Kandahar Airfield.  We routinely see the leadership team via video teleconferences; however, we don't get the opportunity to see our incredible teammates in action like we do at Bagram,” Brown said.


According to Kelly, the battlefield circulation tour highlighted the important work done by Airmen in support of NATO’s Resolute Support mission and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.


"Across our wing and around the AFCENT AOR, our Airmen execute at an incredibly high level of precision and professionalism. It's an absolute requirement for our Airmen at Bagram, Kandahar and Jalalabad,” Kelly said. “The Airmen in the 451st AEG do an outstanding job out here on the combat frontier. They truly are some of the best in our business."


For Brown, the Airmen at Kandahar impressed him with their attitude and performance.


“I was impressed with every Airman I came across. I was proud to see strong, professional teaming at all levels of leadership and followership. They all had great attitudes and smiles, and they’re all proud of their accomplishments,” said the chief. “It's always refreshing to see that Airmen aren't afraid to voice their pride, or their concerns, to senior leadership. Our Airmen exemplify our Core Values and are carrying on the proud traditions and warrior ethos of those that have gone before them.”


The general said the Airmen at KAF are integral to the wing’s mission.


"Afghanistan is still a dangerous place that requires us to deliver close air support, airlift, personnel recovery, aeromedical evacuation, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in one of the most challenging environments in the world,” Kelly said. “The Airmen of the 451st AEG work every day to ensure we are delivering a blanket of steel, technology and courage to protect the force in the field and to support our Afghan partners."


For the chief, this was his last visit to KAF before he redeploys and retires from the service, and he was glad for the opportunity.


“This was my final ‘Face Look’ visit with our 451 AEG Airmen at KAF as I get ready to redeploy.  I cannot be more proud of each of these warriors.  The single-most important reason I chose to deploy as my final assignment before I retire was because of the incredible teamwork, camaraderie and professionalism displayed during combat,” said Brown. “I’m humbled to be but a small part of our incredible 451 AEG team.”


The chief wants Airmen to know how important they are to what the wing provides to the joint fight in Afghanistan.


“I truly hope our Airmen realize that their wing leadership team cares about each and every one of them.  We will not be able to fully execute our mission if we lose any of them,” Brown said. “We can repair or replace aircraft that are damaged.  We cannot replace a lost Airman.”


Ultimately, the general said he wanted to take the opportunity to thank Airmen and their families for their service.


"I want each Airman to know how proud and thankful I am of their service, and the service of their families back home,” Kelly said. “We couldn't do what we do here in Afghanistan without family support from back home. Our Airmen and their families are our national treasures.”


The 451st AEG is a geographically-separated unit of the 455th AEW, and operates the E-11, MQ-1B Predator and MQ-9 Reaper aircraft at Kandahar and Jalalabad airfields to ensure information superiority to commanders here by delivering timely, accurate, relevant and coherent intelligence so the U.S. and its partners can conduct their operations.