RAF MILDENHALL, England — A new wing will stand up at RAF Mildenhall this summer to handle issues ranging from operations to quality of life for the remote in England.
The 501st Combat Support Wing will be an advocate for RAF Fairford, RAF Croughton, Menwith Hill and the tri-base area of RAF Alconbury, RAF Molesworth and RAF Upwood, said Capt. Chris Watt, a public affairs spokesman for U.S. Air Forces in Europe.
“It’s to ensure that the GSUs get more support than they’ve had,” Watt said, using the military acronym for geographically separated units.
“USAFE has supported them pretty well, but this is going to provide better support.”
USAFE stood up the 38th Combat Support Wing last May at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to oversee remote bases throughout the command. It will remain, but transfer responsibility for the bases in the United Kingdom to the 501st CSW.
“The 38th Combat Support Wing is doing great things for us,” said Lt. Col. Scott Calisti, commander of the 423rd Air Base Squadron at RAF Alconbury. “But what we gain is a wing in the United Kingdom focused solely on the needs of the U.K. geographically separated units.”
Watt said the new wing will stand up “in a few weeks” and will require a boost in personnel of fewer than 60. The commander will be Col. Blake Lindner, currently deputy director of plans and programs for USAFE.
In January 2004, the 420th Air Base Group was created at RAF Fairford to look after the needs of the bases in England and the 426th Air Base Squadron in Stavanger, Norway. The 426th now falls under the 38th CSW.
Under the plan, the air base squadrons at the bases will become groups and flights will be redesignated as squadrons.
Lt. Col. Dave Frye, commander of the 422nd Air Base Squadron at RAF Croughton, called the new wing “the next obvious step in the evolution of our U.K. GSUs.”
Frye’s base includes 600 personnel, both civilian and military, and a total community population of 2,500, he said.
“We’ve also been operating as a group level organization years, but without the support network,” he said.
“Now we’ll have a squadron, group and wing organization structure in the U.K. to ensure we operate at peak efficiency and get our fair share of resources and recognition.”