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455th AEW commander, command chief visit Kandahar Airfield

  • Published
  • By Maj. Tony M. Wickman
  • 455th AEW Public Affairs
Brig. Gen. Dave Julazadeh, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Matt Grengs, 455th AEW command chief, visited the 451st Air Expeditionary Group at Kandahar Airfield, July 24-25 as part of a battlefield circulation tour to see Airmen and get updated on the ongoing mission at the geographically separated unit.

The general and chief met with Airmen from across the group who provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and airborne datalink capabilities for U.S. and Coalition forces operating outside the wire while also operating one of the busiest airfields in the theater.

For Col. Rhude Cherry, 451st AEG commander, it was important the wing leaders came to KAF to see his Airmen in their work and living spaces.

“It’s important to not only see them doing their job, but see and understand what that mission is,” Cherry said. “We were very happy to have the general and chief come down and show them what we do here.”

Cherry said in a short amount of time the general and chief were able to see the three things the group delivers every day.

“The mission of the 451st (AEG) consists of three things: we provide ISR to all of Afghanistan; we run the aerial port at KAF; and we provide the senior airfield authority for KAF. The general and chief were able to see each of those things,” Cherry said.

According to Grengs, the visit was an important opportunity to see and personally thank Airmen for their service on the combat frontier while also learning about the group’s mission.

“This trip was intended for General Julazadeh and me to visit Kandahar and see our Airmen firsthand and the great work they’re doing at KAF. They’re a big part of the Vulture Nation,” Grengs said. “We were impressed with the work they are doing, and inspired by their motivation and passion. They’re making a difference here, and each Airman matters to the success of our wing and our mission.”

Cherry said the group’s Airmen support two lines of efforts here in Afghanistan, and his Airmen are proud of their service in Afghanistan.

“For Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, we provide armed over watch of our ground forces outside the wire as they conduct their counterterrorism operations. For the Resolute Support mission, we provide force protection and ISR coverage for U.S. and Coalition forces in the country,” the colonel said. “You can tell our Airmen are proud to be here and doing their mission. You can sense morale is high because they know what they do is important…they know who it supports and they want to do it right.”

The chief agreed, saying the 451st AEG Airmen motivated him and the general and each were critical to the wing’s mission in Afghanistan.

“We’re incredibly proud of our 451st Airmen. They’re punching well above their weight and doing phenomenal work in the Vulture Nation,” Grengs said. “They’re excited about what they do and how they fit not only into the wing’s mission, but into the theater’s mission of OFS and Resolute Support.”

Grengs said the wing’s Airmen embody the mantra of “Vultures Lead the Way.”

“’Vultures Lead The Way’ means that everything we do—from the mission to taking care of our Airmen to improving our environment—we’re on the front end setting the highest standard for everyone else to follow,” Grengs said.

As one of the five groups assigned to the 455th AEW, the 451st AEG 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 and communication datalinks so the U.S. and its partners can conduct their operations.