451st AEW marks first year in Afghanistan

KBY International Construction Co., Brig. Gen. Guy Walsh,
451st Air Expeditionary Wing commander, Col. Todd
Tyree, 451st Expeditionary Mission Support Group
commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Steve McDonald,
451st AEW command chief, participate in a ribbon-cutting
ceremony July 2 to open brand-new work and living
facilities, marking the one-year anniversary of the wing’s
activation at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air
Force photo by Senior Airman Nancy Hooks/Released)

by Tech. Sgt. Renni Thornton
451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
7/5/2010 - KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- The
451st Air Expeditionary Wing celebrated its one-year
anniversary July 2, marking the event with a ribboncutting
ceremony for brand-new facilities on Kandahar

The 451st AEW was activated on July 2, 2009, when
newly-arrived commanders on KAF faced the daunting
task of transforming the group into a wing, and adding
additional operational and support capabilities to
support ground forces in southern Afghanistan.

"The duties of the wing commander at that time were to
stand up a new wing where the Air Force did not have
one," said Brig. Gen. Guy Walsh, commander of the
451st Air Expeditionary Wing. "We had an operational
group here, and so essentially what General North
asked me to do was quadruple in size and add about four or five new missions and new mission capabilities
to build the space in order to be able to provide air support to the ground forces commander and to the
International Security Assistance Force commander, and to do all that while engaged in combat operations

The new wing was stood up under then-Lt. Gen. Gary L. North, the previous commander of the U.S. Air Forces
Central Command. Lt. Gen. Mike Hostage is the current AFCENT commander.

The wing grew significantly in its first year, as the Air Force added the close-air support capabilities of the A-
10 Thunderbolt II, the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities of the MC-12 Liberty, the lifesaving
capabilities of the HC-130P King, and an aeromedical evacuation unit with a contingency aeromedical
staging facility at both Camp Bastion and KAF. These new assets and capabilities increased the arsenal of
weapon systems already in operations in the wing: the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper--both remotelypiloted
ISR assets, the HH-60 Pave Hawk casualty evacuation mission, and the tactical airlift, airdrop and
aeromedical evacuation mission of the C-130J Hercules.

General Walsh and 451st AEW leadership defined the mission of the wing's expanded operations as
providing a "persistent and powerful airpower presence... whenever and wherever needed."

In one year, the personnel numbers grew as well, swelling from several hundred to just over 2,000 by June

"Being able to get some of the top Airmen out here and the top squadron commanders, and the top chiefs in
our Air Force as we stood up and were bringing those mission capabilities to the AOR was a key to success
here," said General Walsh.

While the wing met and overcame many challenges, opening the new work and living facilities at Camp
Losano culminated a lot of hard work, said Col. Todd Tyree, commander, 451st Expeditionary Mission
Support Group.

"It's a great symbol of 'mission complete' for me, for all of us here," Colonel Tyree recalled. "These facilities
represent a lot of hard work and dedication by all the contractors, wing leaders. We managed this project by
ourselves and that is a huge accomplishment. There are many heroes who made this happen, to include civil
engineers, force support, communications and personnel teams."

Colonel Tyree also expressed his thanks to the men and women who participated in the process. "It was a
huge project and I am proud to leave this to the next team," he said.
General Walsh said the day holds significance for him as the commander as well.

"This milestone is really about taking care of Airmen. At 9:11 a.m., July 2, 2009, the wing was stood up," the
general stated. "We had about two dozen aircraft in the group ... Our goal was to build a new wing at that time.
Since then, we've flown over 21,000 combat missions 144,000 combat operations in one year."
General Walsh said he quickly realized the need to provide a location for all the Airmen assigned to the wing,
upon arriving at the wing at the beginning of his deployment.

"One of the most critical indicators occurred during our first rocket attack, and we attempted to get
accountability of wing personnel. Because they were located all over the base, it made that process difficult,"
said General Walsh.

Early on, the commander set an important goal for his one-year tour at KAF.

"I knew at that point I wanted to be able to turn over this wing in a year to another commander, with us in
facilities that enabled the wing to survive and operate and continue the flying mission with the right level of
force protection and accountability," he said. "I'm very proud of the partnerships we've had with other base
agencies to make this happen."

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony on the morning of the anniversary of the wing's one-year activation, General
Walsh's final words to the gathered 451st personnel summed up the occasion.

"This was all done by Airmen for Airmen, and it's a proud day for the 451st," said General Walsh.