Officials at Shaw AFB, S.C., have begun moving the base’s oldest squadron to Pope Field, N.C. The 682nd Air Support Operations Squadron originally activated in December 1971 as the 682nd Direct Air Support Center Squadron. It’s tasked with providing theater air support and processing requests for close air support and tactical air reconnaissance. It also is one of five Air Force squadrons that act as an air support operations center, according to a Shaw release. Once the move is complete in June 2012, the squadron will be co-located with the 18th Airborne Corps, the Army unit it is attached to. However, it will maintain a presence at Shaw throughout the transition process. Maj. Bill Lee, squadron commander, said the move has been in the works since the 1990s. “The vision has finally become a reality, but we could not have done it without the 20th [Fighter Wing’s] help.” The official relocation ceremony was held July 22.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.