451st Air Expeditionary Group

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451st Air Expeditionary Group
Active since 1943
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Size Wing
Part of United States Air Forces Central
Garrison/HQ Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan
Engagements World War II European Campaign (1943–1945)
Global War on Terrorism Afghanistan
Col Scott Campbell
451st Air Expeditionary Wing emblem 451 AEW color.png
451st Strategic Missile Wing emblem (Approved 29 June 1962)[1] 451st Strategic Missile Wing.PNG
Unofficial 451st Bombardment Group emblem[2] 451st Bombardment Group - Emblem.png

The 451st Air Expeditionary Group (451 AEG) is a provisional United States Air Force USAFCENT unit. It is assigned to Kandahar Airfield and is also the host unit at Kandahar. It reports to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram Air Base.

The 451 AEG provides an airpower presence in the Afghanistan area of operations. 451st AEW Airmen provide Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, Command and Control, RPA operations, and Airborne Datalink capabilities.

During the Cold War, the Strategic Air Command 451st Strategic Missile Wing was the first fully operational HGM-25A Titan I ICBM wing in 1962. During World War II, the wing's predecessor unit, the 451st Bombardment Group was a B-24 Liberator heavy bombardment organization, assigned to Fifteenth Air Force in Italy.


    • 451st Expeditionary Communications Squadron
    • 451st Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron
    • 451st Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron
    • 451st Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron
    • 451st Expeditionary Force Support Flight

Tenant Units


World War II

451st Bomb Group B-24 Liberator[note 1]

Constituted as 451st Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 6 April 1943. Activated on 1 May 1943. Activated as a B-24 Liberator heavy bombardment unit; assigned to II Bomber Command for training. Primarily trained in the midwest. Received deployment orders for the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) in November 1943.

Deployed to Southern Italy in January 1944; entered combat in January 1944, being assigned to Fifteenth Air Force. Air echelon training in Algeria for several weeks before joining the remainder of the group in Italy. Engaged in very long range strategic bombing missions to enemy military, industrial and transportation targets in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia. Attacked such targets as oil refineries, marshalling yards, aircraft factories, bridges, and airfields in Italy, France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, and Greece.

Received a Distinguished Unit Citation for each of three missions: to an aircraft factory at Regensburg on 25 February 1944, to oil refineries and marshalling yards at Ploiești on 5 April 1944, and to an airdrome at Vienna on 23 August 1944; although encountering large numbers of enemy fighters and severe antiaircraft fire during each of these missions, the group fought its way through the opposition, destroyed many interceptors, and inflicted serious damage on the assigned targets.

Infamously responsible for the bombing of a primary school in Milan's neighborhood of Gorla on 20 October 1944 which caused the death of 184 children and their teachers.

At times the group also flew support and interdictory missions. Helped to prepare the way for and participated in the invasion of Southern France in August 1944. Transported supplies to troops in Italy during September 1944. Supported the final advances of Allied armies in northern Italy in April 1945.

Returned to the US in June 1945, forming at Dow Field, Maine. Unit personnel were demobilized throughout the summer of 1945. Inactivated on 26 September 1945.

Cold War

Established as the 451st Strategic Missile Wing (ICBM-Titan) at Lowry Air Force Base, Colorado and organized on 1 July 1961. The wing assumed the missiles, personnel and equipment of the 703d Strategic Missile Wing (Inactivated)[4] The 451st SMW was the first operational HGM-25A Titan I missile wing. Construction on all 18 silos at the six launch complexes was completed by 4 August 1961. On 18 April 1962, Headquarters SAC declared the 724th SMS operational, and 2 days later the first Titan Is went on alert status. A month later, the sister 725th SMS (initially designated the 849th SMS) declared it had placed all nine of its Titan Is on alert status, which marked a SAC first.

On 19 November 1964, Defense Secretary McNamara announced the phase-out of remaining first-generation SM-65 Atlas and Titan I missiles by the end of June 1965. This objective was met. All wing missiles went off alert status on 26 March 1965 and the wing phased down for inactivation. On 25 June 1965, the 724th SMS and 725th SMS were inactivated. SAC removed the last missile from Lowry on 14 April 1965.

Global War on Terrorism

An HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter lands as an Army UH-60 Blackhawk prepares to pick up a patient[note 2]

The 451st Air Expeditionary Group was activated in 2002 as part of the Global War on Terrorism, conducting operations from Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. The group was responsible for air control of the southern region of Afghanistan, launch and recovery operations for the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper aircraft, the employment of combat search and rescue forces throughout the entire country and ground security and defense of the airfield. Included in the group are safety, logistics, communications, civil engineer.

Due to the growth in size and requirements of the USAF mission at Kandahar, the 451 AEG was enlarged to a wing-level organization, redesignated as the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing (451 AEW) and activated as such on 2 July 2009.[5]

The wing was downsized to a group in January 2014 as part of the Afghanistan drawdown.[6]

Former components:

  • 451st Expeditionary Maintenance Group
    • 451st Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
    • 451st Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron
  • 451st Expeditionary Mission Support Group


451st Bombardment Group
  • Constituted as the 451st Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 6 April 1943
Activated on 1 May 1943
Redesignated 451st Bombardment Group, Heavy on 10 May 1943
Inactivated on 26 September 1945[note 3]
Consolidated on 31 January 1984 with the 451st Strategic Missile Wing as the 451st Strategic Missile Wing[12]
451st Strategic Missile Wing
  • Established as the 451st Strategic Missile Wing (ICBM-Titan) 1 July 1961 and activated (not organized)
Organized 1 July 1961
Discontinued and inactivated on 25 June 1965[note 4]
Consolidated on 31 January 1984 with the 451st Bombardment Group
  • Redesignated 451st Air Expeditionary Group, converted to provisional status and assigned to Air Combat Command to activate or inactivate as needed on 3 May 2002[12]
Activated 2 May 2002[13]
  • Redesignated 451st Air Expeditionary Wing 2 July 2009[13]
  • Redesignated 451st Air Expeditionary Group c. 3 January 2014[13]


455th Air Expeditionary Wing, 2 May 2002
Ninth Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force, 2 July 2009 - presemt


  • 451st Expeditionary Maintenance Group, 2 July 2009 - 3 January 2014
  • 451st Expeditionary Mission Support Group, 2 July 2009 - 3 January 2014
  • 451st Expeditionary Operations Group, 2 July 2009 - 3 January 2014





  1. Aircraft is Consolidated B-24H-30-CF serial 42-50443 displaying 304th Bombardment Wing markings c. 1945. The upper tail surface and circle were red.
  2. The 33d Expeditionary Rescue Squadron is the first squadron to have a combat search-and-rescue mission and a medical evacuation mission. It is based at Kandahar, Afghanistan
  3. Group lineage in Maurer, Combat Units, pp. 325-326
  4. Wing lineage in Ravenstein, p. 247
  5. Assignments through May 2002 in Robertson, Factsheet 451st Air Expeditionary Group.


  1. Ravenstein, p. 247
  2. See Maurer, Combat Units, p. 326 (no approved emblem).
  3. Tech. Sgt. Renni Thornton, 62d ERS reaches 250K flying hours in AOR, 6/16/2010, 451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
  4. USAFHRA document 00425998
  5. General takes to the sky in Afghanistan, Air Force News Service
  6. 451st Air Expeditionary Wing transitions to Group at Kandahar Airfield, 1/15/2014, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
  7. 702d Expeditionary Airlift Squadron deactivates at Kandahar Airfield
  8. Rescue squadron deactivates at Camp Bastion, Trevor Martin, 6 January 2014
  9. Last rescue squadrons leaving Kandahar, Air Force Times
  10. Rescue squadrons close chapter in southern Afghanistan
  11. 651st EAES scheduled for deactivation, Capt. Jason Smith, 451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
  12. 12.0 12.1 Robertson, Patsy (December 3, 2009). "Factsheet 451 Air Expeditionary Group (ACC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved August 2, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Rihn, SMS Gary J. "451st Air Expeditionary Wing transitions to Group at Kandahar Airfield". Unitrf Dtates Air Force Central Command Public Affairs. Retrieved August 2, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  • Hill, Michael. The 451st Bomb Group in World War II: A Pictorial History. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, 2000. ISBN 0-7643-1287-1.
  • Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings, Lineage & Honors Histories 1947-1977 (PDF). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links