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RAF MILDENHALL, England – A two-year command marked by an increasing focus on Africa came to an end Wednesday when Col. Christopher Kulas relinquished control of the 100th Air Refueling Wing to Col. Kenneth Bibb Jr.

Bibb becomes commander of the only refueling wing for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and U.S. Africa Command. Activated at RAF Mildenhall in 1992, the wing has provided support to operations in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

When Kulas arrived in 2011, the wing’s focus was starting to shift to Africa. The wing was involved in two operations that year against Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya.

Kulas “and the team provided 25 percent of all the air refueling that occurred and enabled 500 missions that directly resulted in the demise of Moammar Gadhafi,” said Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, 3rd Air Force and 17th Expeditionary Air Force commander, who presided over the change of command.

The 100th has also deployed to support operations Jukebox Lotus and Juniper Shield in 2012. Mark Howell, historian for the 100th, said the missions were in support of AFRICOM, but could not elaborate since the details are classified.

However, a 2013 congressional research report describes U.S. forces in Operation Juniper Shield as working with local militaries in north and west Africa to combat “violent extremism” by improving “intelligence, regional coordination, logistics, border control, and targeting.”

Even as Kulas passed command to Bibb, one of the wing’s squadrons is deployed in support of aerial operations over Mali. The 351st Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, deployed to Spain since January, has been providing mid-air refueling to the French who are fighting forces linked to al-Qaida in the African nation.

“Thank you all for your personal sacrifices, long hours, innovative ideas, cooperative spirit, effectiveness and mission execution,” Kulas said to the 100th.

Bibb is also no stranger to operations in Africa. Before taking command of the 100th, he served as vice commander of the 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, during which the wing provided support in Libya after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

Kulas will become director of the Air Force Colonel Management office at the Pentagon.

mathis.adam@stripes.com

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