BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan --
U.S. Airmen and F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 175th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS) deployed to Bagram Airfield in support of combat operations, July 27.
“The number one objective during our time here is to support the forces and meet the ground commander’s intent,” said Lt. Col. Cory Kestel, 175th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander. “The airpower the South Dakota Air National Guard brings to this area of responsibility will continue to assist the Afghan government and security forces in their fight against Taliban, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other insurgents, and prevent re-establishment of international terrorist safe havens.”
The 175th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron replaced the 125th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, out of Tulsa Air National Guard Base, Oklahoma, who delivered decisive airpower for the past three months.
Deployed out of the 114th Fighter Wing, Joe Foss Field, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the “Lobos” have a rich history dating back to September 20, 1946, when the 175th Fighter Squadron received federal recognition and the South Dakota Air National Guard was created.
From the P-51 Mustang to the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the “Lobos” have combatted oppression and terrorism from their first combat mission enforcing a no-fly zone over northern Iraq during Operation Provide Comfort II to now, providing overwatch to our coalition and Afghan forces in support of the Resolute Support Mission and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
The F-16s from both squadrons, which are attached to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, provide close-air-support and kinetic strikes, as well as overwatch for ground forces.
The 455th Air Expeditionary Wing also operates the MQ-9 Reaper, C-130J Super Hercules, A-10 Thunderbolt II and E-11 airframes to fight terrorism in Afghanistan. The diverse fleet of aircraft allows the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing to meet a wide variety of ground force needs, including surveillance, reconnaissance, airlift, airdrop and communications support, which enables a successful train, advise and assist campaign.
Established in 2009, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan is a U.S.-led mission that directs and enables U.S. military operations in support of Resolute Support, NATO’s train, advise and assist mission. Its purpose is to sustain campaign momentum in Afghanistan. It is also tasked with executing responsibilities and oversight for manpower, material and logistics, basing and operational movement in the country, supporting a responsible economic transition that encourages a resilient Afghan economy.