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Top officials salute during a ceremony in Kabul for Air Force Maj. Gen. Barre R. Seguin, incoming commander for NATO Air Command-Afghanistan, on Wednesday, May 2, 2018. From left, British Army Lt. Gen. Richard Cripwell, deputy commander of NATO’s Resolute Support mission;  Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, head of U.S. Air Forces Central Command; outgoing commander Maj. Gen. James B. Hecker; and Seguin.
Top officials salute during a ceremony in Kabul for Air Force Maj. Gen. Barre R. Seguin, incoming commander for NATO Air Command-Afghanistan, on Wednesday, May 2, 2018. From left, British Army Lt. Gen. Richard Cripwell, deputy commander of NATO’s Resolute Support mission; Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, head of U.S. Air Forces Central Command; outgoing commander Maj. Gen. James B. Hecker; and Seguin. (Phillip Walter Wellman/Stars and Stripes)
Top officials salute during a ceremony in Kabul for Air Force Maj. Gen. Barre R. Seguin, incoming commander for NATO Air Command-Afghanistan, on Wednesday, May 2, 2018. From left, British Army Lt. Gen. Richard Cripwell, deputy commander of NATO’s Resolute Support mission;  Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, head of U.S. Air Forces Central Command; outgoing commander Maj. Gen. James B. Hecker; and Seguin.
Top officials salute during a ceremony in Kabul for Air Force Maj. Gen. Barre R. Seguin, incoming commander for NATO Air Command-Afghanistan, on Wednesday, May 2, 2018. From left, British Army Lt. Gen. Richard Cripwell, deputy commander of NATO’s Resolute Support mission; Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, head of U.S. Air Forces Central Command; outgoing commander Maj. Gen. James B. Hecker; and Seguin. (Phillip Walter Wellman/Stars and Stripes)
Air Force Maj. Gen. Barre R. Seguin speaks at a ceremony in Kabul on Wednesday, May 2, 2018, after assuming command of the 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Afghanistan and NATO Air Command-Afghanistan.
Air Force Maj. Gen. Barre R. Seguin speaks at a ceremony in Kabul on Wednesday, May 2, 2018, after assuming command of the 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Afghanistan and NATO Air Command-Afghanistan. (Phillip Walter Wellman/Stars and Stripes)
Air Force Maj. Gen. Barre R. Seguin, right, assumes command of the 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Afghanistan and NATO Air Command-Afghanistan from British Army Lt. Gen. Richard Cripwell, deputy commander of NATO’s Resolute Support mission, at a ceremony in Kabul on May 2, 2018.
Air Force Maj. Gen. Barre R. Seguin, right, assumes command of the 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Afghanistan and NATO Air Command-Afghanistan from British Army Lt. Gen. Richard Cripwell, deputy commander of NATO’s Resolute Support mission, at a ceremony in Kabul on May 2, 2018. (Phillip Walter Wellman/Stars and Stripes)
Air Force Maj. Gen. Barre R. Seguin speaks at a ceremony in Kabul on Wednesday, May 2, 2018, after assuming command of the 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Afghanistan and NATO Air Command-Afghanistan.
Air Force Maj. Gen. Barre R. Seguin speaks at a ceremony in Kabul on Wednesday, May 2, 2018, after assuming command of the 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Afghanistan and NATO Air Command-Afghanistan. (Phillip Walter Wellman/Stars and Stripes)
Air Force Maj. Gen. James B. Hecker gives his last speech as commander of the 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Afghanistan and NATO Air Command-Afghanistan at a ceremony in Kabul on May 2, 2018.
Air Force Maj. Gen. James B. Hecker gives his last speech as commander of the 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Afghanistan and NATO Air Command-Afghanistan at a ceremony in Kabul on May 2, 2018. (Phillip Walter Wellman/Stars and Stripes)

KABUL, Afghanistan — Maj. Gen. Barre R. Seguin took over as the top Air Force commander in Afghanistan on Wednesday, pledging to help lead the escalating air campaign while also strengthening the capabilities of the Afghan air force.

Seguin took over command of the 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force and NATO Air Command from Maj. Gen. James B. Hecker.

“I am truly humbled to be part of a team of coalition airmen, soldiers, sailors, Marines and interagency teammates in combat and in support of one of our nation’s top priorities,” Seguin said at a ceremony at the headquarters of the U.S.-led international coalition.

His tenure follows “an incredible year of war fighting,” overseen by Hecker, said Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, who attended the ceremony.

Over the past 12 months, the U.S. has ramped up its air campaign in Afghanistan, dropping a record number of munitions on the Taliban and the Islamic State-Khorasan. In the fall, U.S. and Afghan forces started attacking Taliban narcotics laboratories, which Harrigian said has so far denied the guerrilla group $35 million in revenue.

The increased activity is set to continue under Seguin’s watch, underscored by the recent transfer of assets such as A-10 Thunderbolt jets from Iraq and Syria to Afghanistan.

The Afghan air force remains dependent on U.S. support; however, the Afghans have conducted more missions without international support during the past year, spurred by an aircraft inventory that has tripled.

“That’s what winning looks like in the Air Force,” Hecker said at Wednesday’s ceremony. “We’re working ourselves out of a job and we’re getting the Afghan air force more and more capable.”

Seguin, a distinguished graduate of the Reserve Officer Training Corps, is a combat mission commander with over 3,500 flying hours in the F-16, T-38 and T-37.

His last post was director of strategy, plans and programs at U.S. Africa Command. One of his many posts before that was as commander of the 14th Flying Training Wing out of Columbus Air Force Base, Miss.

“His insight into flying training will prove dividends as our Afghan air force partners continue their recapitalizing, reinforcing the investment we have all made to the people of Afghanistan and the future of the Afghan air force,” Harrigian said.

wellman.phillip@stripes.comTwitter: @pwwellman

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