The 427th Reconnaissance Squadron “Spartans” inactivated in a Nov. 20 ceremony at Beale AFB, Calif., completing Air Combat Command’s divestiture of the MC-12W Liberty. “We’re witnessing a tremendous chapter of airpower history close, not only for Beale, but for the Air Force,” 9th Operations Group Commander Col. Darren Halford told Air Force Magazine in an interview at Beale. “The aircraft saved lives” on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan and “the fact that we had their back, and had the high ground brought a lot more [people] home in better shape,” he added. Since the 427th RS stood up at Beale in 2012, the unit trained and deployed some 455 aircrew and flew 4,770 combat sorties, according to a release. The last aircrew returned from deployment to Afghanistan in October. ACC dispersed its MC-12s to the Army and civilian contract operators, retaining 13 airframes to stand up a new Air National Guard mission under Air Force Special Operations Command. “It’s probably a better placement … the mission set is going where it belongs,” 427th RS Commander Lt. Col. Joey Laws said in an interview. A Beale cadre is helping stand up the new MC-12 schoolhouse at Will Rogers ANGB, Okla., where Guard crews will begin training next year. “I would love to be a part of the MC-12 program for the rest of my career because I’m so proud of what it’s accomplished,” said Laws.
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.