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Mission complete: Air Expeditionary Force

ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md. -- When most people hear of Turkey these days, they think automatically of earthquakes and the bird flu but to some members of the 459th Air Refueling Wing, Turkey means Air Expeditionary Force or more commonly termed as AEF.

More than 150 members departed on our own KC-135s to make the 11-hour flight to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Pilots, boom operators, medical, maintenance, operations, and administrative staff, were tasked to partake in the first AEF deployment for the wing, quickly becoming members of the 385th Air Expeditionary Group and more specifically, members of the 90th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, upon landing at Incirlik Air Base.

The 90th EARS, “provides combat airlift and air refueling to the war fighter in direct support of Operations Iraqi Freedom,” according to the Incirlik Air Base’s web site.

In response to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, Operation Enduring Freedom began in October 2001. Incirlik AB serves as a main hub for humanitarian airlift operations to Afghanistan, to include KC-135 refueling missions and sustainment operations for deployed forces.

The deployed location is determined by staff members who work at the AEF cell at Langley Air Force Base, Va., who fill the existing requirements for tanker support.

Once Air Force Reserve Command “buys” a certain number of AEF rotations from active duty, the AFRC AEF cell determines which units will deploy to which locations in 30-day increments to fill a 120-day rotation.

This particular kind of AEF deployment occurs every 20 months, however, individual taskings in support offices are on a different AEF schedule.

“Tanker units regularly deploy as a unit,” said Capt. Tim Bourdeau, logistics readiness officer, 459th Logistics Readiness Flight.

“Usually this means an aviation (planes and aircrew) and maintenance package with a small support staff. Other staff support functions will continue to deploy in support of AEFs on a separate and individual basis just as we have always done,” said Bourdeau.