RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — In a rare occurrence in the Air Force, one wing became two at Ramstein as the new 435th Air Base Wing was activated and a new commander took the reins.

With the simple phrase, “Sir, I assume command,” Brig. Gen. Rosanne Bailey took control of the new wing in a ceremony presided over by Maj. Gen. Michael W. Wooley, 3rd Air Force commander.

The 435th will provide base support functions at Ramstein, the key airlift hub for the U.S. European Command. Bailey also will command the Kaiserslautern Military Community, the largest population of Americans outside the United States. The KMC, as it is called, includes 44,000 U.S. military members, civilians and their dependents.

“Today is the 29th day in the second century of flight and the first day in the life of a great wing,” Bailey said during the ceremony at Ramstein’s Hangar 3.

“It is a rare thing for the Air Force to create a new wing, and I’m genuinely honored and humbled to have a role in this new wing and the new history of this base.”

Airlift operations and support functions at Ramstein Air Base had been under the 86th Airlift Wing since 1985. But the demands of both became unwieldy for a single commander, so the U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander, Gen. Robert H. Fogelsong, ordered the reorganization.

Under the new structure, the 86th Airlift Wing will focus entirely on combat, contingency support and humanitarian airlift operations within EUCOM, including Africa.

On Thursday, Col. Robert Kane, previously the 86th’s vice commander, took command of the wing from Brig. Gen. Erwin F. Lessel III. Kane and Bailey promised to make the transition as smooth as possible.

“At Ramstein, there will be one team and one fight,” Kane said.

Lessel will move to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, where he will be deputy director of plans and programs.

Under Lessel’s leadership, the wing was named the Air Force’s Outstanding Unit for 2002, which was presented by Wooley on Thursday.

“It’s a sad day and a happy day,” Lessel said of leaving the wing.

Among the wing’s recent accomplishments were two noncombatant evacuation missions in African countries. During Operation Iraqi Freedom alone, the base was responsible for 8,496 flights, 81,325 passengers and 77,421 tons of cargo.

Of Kane and Bailey, Lessel said: “They’re in for the ride of their lives.”

The two wings

On Thursday, a new wing was activated at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and several groups were realigned. Here is the current structure of Ramstein’s support and operational elements in its two wings.

• 86th Airlift Wing

Commander: Col. Robert Kane

Operations Group

Maintenance Group

Contingency Response Group

Air and Space Communications Group

• 435th Air Base Wing

Commander: Brig. Gen. Rosanne Bailey

Mission Support Group

Security Forces Group

Communications Group

Civil Engineer Group

Logistics Readiness Group

Medical Group

435th Air Base Group (Formerly 469th Air Base Group, Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany)

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