What USAFE's 435th AGOW brings to the fight

  • Published
  • By Col. Thomas F. Gould
  • 435th Air Ground Operations Wing commander
In a nutshell, the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing gives U.S. Air Forces in Europe the capability to rapidly open a base, wire it for communications, enable flight operations and stand-up a command and control node for coordination with higher headquarters, sister services, coalition partners or host nations.

The 435th AGOW is a light, highly-expeditionary, scalable organization comprised of nearly 1,400 Airmen capable of establishing forward-based aerospace operations in support of everything from airlift, fighters and helos to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms. It was formed with one goal in mind - to provide our joint force commanders rapid expeditionary airfield operations and to coordinate or direct joint fires across the full spectrum of conflict anytime,

The AGOW's mission is absolutely critical in today's geopolitical environment. With challenges ranging from building partnership capacity to humanitarian relief and irregular warfare to conventional military operations, our Air Force must be prepared to quickly establish operations at existing airfields, bare bases and austere locations around the world and in some cases near or among less-than-friendly forces.

The wing is a force enabler for USAFE, allowing it to put Airmen and systems in the right place at the right time with little to no notice.

So exactly how was the AGOW created? Back in July, the 435th Air Base Wing was deactivated and all its organizations realigned under the 86th Airlift Wing.  On the very same day, a new wing called the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing stood up. It consists of the 435th Contingency Response Group and the 435th Air and Space Communications Group, formally aligned under the 86th Airlift Wing, and the 4th Air Support Operations Group, formerly a direct reporting unit with 3rd Air Force, to create a one-of-a-kind organization within USAFE and the USAF.

The 435th AGOW consolidates the expeditionary capabilities to assess, prepare and operate airfields for expeditionary forces from the CRG with the robust contingency communications capabilities of the ACOMG and the ability to direct air power through the tactical air control party and battlefield weather specialists of the 4th Air Support Operations Group.

While these capabilities are not new, the wing provides our specialized Airmen a single command and control structure that allows us to standardize our organizational processes, including how we are tasked, streamline how we train, equip and employ as battlefield Airmen, and provide an organization to liaise with service, joint, combined and interagency organizations. It also allows the wing to optimize its specialized combat training and exercises, especially with the 86th Airlift Wing and the rest of Team Ramstein.

In our short time as a wing, the 435th AGOW has already demonstrated its capabilities while participating in the 2009 Medical Central and Eastern Europe Exercise with our CRG and ACOMG personnel, training joint terminal attack controllers and air liaison officers with our NATO partners during Exercise Allied Strike IV and leading the world's largest communications interoperability exercise as part of the 2009 Combined Endeavor exercise in Bosnia.

The AGOW may be the newest wing in USAFE, but we are proving our ability to flex and adapt to a wide variety of demands and challenges.

In a recent speech at the Air Force Association Convention, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley stated that, "The Air Force is in transition ... we must be bold and embrace change. It is one of our great strengths." The 435th AGOW is on the cutting edge of change in today's Air Force, transforming the way we bring aerospace power to the fight and serving as a great example of how USAFE is moving ahead in an ever changing world.

So, the next time someone asks you what an AGOW is, you can summarize its mission in one sentence: open the base, wire the base, and direct and coordinate joint fires in support of full spectrum, joint and combined expeditionary operations.