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National Guard Bureau

WASHINGTON, May 31, 1997 –  

Aviation Units Supporting Bosnia Coming Home

Four aviation units that have been supporting Bosnia stabilization forces are slated to return home in June. A change to the threat assessment in the region means they will not be replaced by stateside units.

Two units operating out of Aviano Air Base, Italy, are heading home. Marine Corps Fighter Attack Squadron 224, with 12 F/A 18D aircraft and 241 Marines, will return to Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station, S.C. The unit flew more than 300 sorties for the NATO mission since arriving in February.

An Air National Guard Detachment from the 110th Fighter Wing, with six A/OA-10 aircraft and 169 airmen, will return to W.K. Kellog Airport, Battle Creek, Mich. They flew more than 200 sorties since arriving in April.

A refueling detachment with crews from two Air National Guard units operating out of Istres Air Base, France, are also returning to their home base. The 155th Air Refueling Wing with its three KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft and 132 troops will return to Lincoln, Neb. The 121st Air Refueling Wing, with one KC-135 and 12 troops, will return to Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, Columbus, Ohio.

The redeployment marks the end of a rotation cycle of fighter and refueling aircraft from the United States to U.S. European Command, DoD officials said. Aircraft stationed in Europe, both land-based and aboard a U.S. carrier in the Mediterranean, will continue the mission, officials said.

DoD decided not to replace the aircraft due to a recent reduced threat assessment, officials said. This was an opportunity to reduce U.S. force structure with minimal operational risk, officials said.


Southern Command Expands Territory

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Southern Command expanded its area of responsibility June 1 to include the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and part of the Atlantic Ocean, areas previously under U.S. Atlantic Command.

Under the change to DoD's Unified Command Plan, Southern Command gains responsibility for U.S. military activities in 13 Caribbean island nations, DoD officials said. The change also adds several European territories, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.

An earlier change to the plan transferred waters adjacent to Central and South America from Atlantic Command to Southern Command, officials said.

The new transfer aligns the Caribbean and all of Latin America south of Mexico under one unified command. This will enhance Southern Command's interaction with the navies of Central and South America, and improve U.S. counterdrug efforts by giving one commander responsibility for both the source and transit zones of the drug trade, officials said.

The Unified Command Plan guides all unified combatant commanders and establishes their missions, responsibilities and force structure. It also delineates the general geographic area of responsibility for geographic combatant commanders. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is reviewing the plan, officials said, and results are expected to be announced in early 1998. (AFPS)

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