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RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — The Air Force plans to resurrect its historic 17th Air Force to become the assigned unit for airmen serving in the Pentagon’s new Africa Command.

U.S. Air Forces Europe headquarters, based at Ramstein, formed a transition team to develop its newest numbered command, Capt. Greg Hignite said Monday. The team had its first meeting less than two months ago.

The history of the 17th dates to the 1950s when it was based in Morocco.

Africa Command is a new regional command that will eventually oversee U.S. military operations on the continent.

While some of the details on the 17th’s command are still being worked out, it will be led by a two-star general and a one-star vice commander, Hignite said. Both officers have not been named.

The new command is estimated to include 300 airmen. Half of the airmen will serve on the headquarters staff, while the rest will make up an air operations center.

The transition team, which includes about a dozen people from USAFE headquarters, has set a goal of establishing initial operations by October next year. The 17th won’t reach “full operational capability” until October 2009.

In addition, the Air Force has shuffled some general officers to new positions throughout Europe.

Brig. Gen. Michael Snodgrass, the director of USAFE Plans, Programs and Analyses, has been reassigned to be chief of staff of U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart. Snodgrass arrived at USAFE in May 2005.

Brig. Gen. Richard Johnston, commander of the 86th Airlift Wing and Kaiserslautern Military Community, has been reassigned to be USAFE’s director of plans and programs. Col. William J. Bender, executive officer to the deputy commander, U.S. European Command, will take his place at a change-of-command ceremony Dec. 19.


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