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An Air Force tanker unit will bid adieu to France on Friday.

The formal ceremony marks the end of 10 years of partnership with the French to provide air refueling for NATO operations in the Balkans and elsewhere from an air base in Istres.

The U.S. tankers are no longer needed, an Air Force press release said. The NATO alliance recently turned over primary peacekeeping duties in Bosnia and Herzegovina to the European Union.

Col. Joseph Abbott, commander of the 401st Air Expeditionary Wing based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, will host the ceremony.

New Mildenhall skipper assumes command

MILDENHALL, England — Naval Air Facility Mildenhall has a new skipper.

Cmdr. Patrick O’Shea assumed command Dec. 2 from Cmdr. Kenan Shaffer, who leaves the post for the U.S. Naval Element National Reconnaissance Office in Virginia, according to a news release.

O’Shea served as Shaffer’s executive officer.

“I expect you to continue with the same level of dedication and professionalism — remember, take care of the fleet, and I will take care of you,” O’Shea said during the change of command ceremony, according to the release.

In his final address to sailors, Shaffer urged flexibility, focus and teamwork.

“We cannot afford to lose focus of the overall mission,” Shaffer said. “It’s easy to get distracted, but we must rely on each other to refocus after each distraction.”

Aircraft, crews replaced at Sigonella

A detachment of P-3C Orion aircraft and crews from Patrol Squadron Five recently replaced aircraft and personnel from Patrol Squadron 16 at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily.

Both squadrons are based out of Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.

The VP-5 “Max Foxes” sent aircraft and about 150 personnel to Sigonella. They are expected to be there for about six months.

VP-16 spent five months flying missions from Sigonella. Squadron aircraft also deployed to Bahrain and Comalapa, El Salvador, and flew missions in support of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.


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