Air Force officials activated the 461st Air Control Wing to operate E-8 JSTARS aircraft at Robins AFB, Ga., in an active association with the Georgia Air National Guard’s 116th Air Control Wing. The 116th ACW originally formed in 2002 as the Air Force’s first “blended wing,” bringing together the active duty 93rd ACW and Air Guard’s 116th Bomb Wing into a single unit to fly and maintain these high-in-demand ground-surveillance airplanes. “Nine years ago to the day, we went from two wings to one, and today we go from one wing to two,” said Brig. Gen. William Welsh, who became 116th ACW commander on Sept 30, the same day that the 461st ACW stood up. Welsh added, “We’re still one team, Team JSTARS.” The Air Force announced last November its plan create the active association in place of the blended wing construct. (Robins report by MSgt. Roger Parsons)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.