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Master Sgt. Andrew Horton unfurls a guidon during the activation ceremony of the 606th Air Control Squadron at Aviano Air Base, Italy, on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. Col. Craig Hollis, center, 31st Operations Group commander, and Lt. Col. Aaron Gibney, the 606th commander, stand at attention.

Master Sgt. Andrew Horton unfurls a guidon during the activation ceremony of the 606th Air Control Squadron at Aviano Air Base, Italy, on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. Col. Craig Hollis, center, 31st Operations Group commander, and Lt. Col. Aaron Gibney, the 606th commander, stand at attention. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)

Master Sgt. Andrew Horton unfurls a guidon during the activation ceremony of the 606th Air Control Squadron at Aviano Air Base, Italy, on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. Col. Craig Hollis, center, 31st Operations Group commander, and Lt. Col. Aaron Gibney, the 606th commander, stand at attention.

Master Sgt. Andrew Horton unfurls a guidon during the activation ceremony of the 606th Air Control Squadron at Aviano Air Base, Italy, on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. Col. Craig Hollis, center, 31st Operations Group commander, and Lt. Col. Aaron Gibney, the 606th commander, stand at attention. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)

Col. Craig Hollis, commander of the 31st Operations Group, left, and  Lt. Col. Aaron Gibney, commander of the 606th Air Control Squadron hold the guidon while Master Sgt. Andrew Horton looks on during the activation ceremony for the 606th at Aviano Air Base, Italy, on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016.

Col. Craig Hollis, commander of the 31st Operations Group, left, and Lt. Col. Aaron Gibney, commander of the 606th Air Control Squadron hold the guidon while Master Sgt. Andrew Horton looks on during the activation ceremony for the 606th at Aviano Air Base, Italy, on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — The 606th Air Control Squadron officially activated at its new base of operations here Tuesday, although much of the unit is still based in Germany.

“Team Aviano, I say with great pride that the 606th has arrived,” Col. Craig Hollis, commander of the 31st Operations Group, said during brief remarks at a ceremony in Hangar 3.

The 606th is moving from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, to Aviano as part of a series of domino-like moves affecting Air Force bases in England, Germany and Italy. It effectively replaces the 603rd Air Control Squadron that inactivated at Aviano in August 2013.

The 606th — called “a mini wing” by its commander, Lt. Col. Aaron Gibney — features 315 airmen in more than two dozen career specialties. It’s one of only three active-duty air control squadrons in the Air Force and the only one based overseas.

Originally formed in Texas on Dec. 15, 1945 — before the Air Force was separated from the Army — the unit has seen time in Korea, Vietnam and a half dozen operations in southwest Asia. It moved from Korea to Europe in 1964 and has been at Spangdahlem since 1994.

The 606th joins the 510th and 555th Fighter Squadrons as the main war-fighting units in the 31st Fighter Wing.

Gibney said that more than half of his squadron is still at Spangdahlem — having recently returned from deployment to the Middle East — and will be moving to Aviano in the near future.

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