Pathfinders welcome new commander, solidify headquarters transition to RAF Fairford

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  • By 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs
  • 501st Combat Support Wing

U.S. Air Force Col. Dennis Phillips assumed command of the 501st Combat Support Wing during a ceremony which was shared with personnel from across the wing at RAF Fairford July 18, 2023.

Maj. Gen. Derek France, Third Air Force commander, presided over the ceremony welcoming Col. Phillips as the newest commander and emphasized how important the U.S. Air Force’s only Combat Support Wing is to the European theater. 
“It’s an honor to be here on this stage with these two great leaders and getting to know their families,” said France. “As the only Combat Support Wing in the Air Force this team executes the demanding task of ensuring the United States and our NATO allies are combat ready and postured to respond to any global crisis. 

The momentous ceremony marked a full turnover in 501st CSW leadership and signified the first command team charged with leading the Pathfinders from RAF Fairford, which was established as the wings’ new headquarters Dec. 6, 2022.  

“Over the past two years, perhaps most importantly, the 501st has faced a difficult and ongoing task of relocating the wing headquarters from RAF Alconbury to RAF Fairford,” said France. “This 172-mile Herculean effort was accomplished to better serve the Airmen of this wing, the mission they execute, and as Col. Filler would say “to match perform” …job well done.” 

France spoke highly of Phillips’ experience and what his leadership would bring to the 501st CSW team.

“Transitions are tough, but they are what makes us stronger,” said France. “The Air Force could not have picked a better leader to lead the 501st to the next level. [Col. Phillips] has proven leadership in this theater at both the squadron and group level; he is also a tactical expert who’s deployed twice to Iraq and three times to Afghanistan as an explosive’s ordnance operator. 

“I know that you will continue a culture of excellent performance in this wing…you have my complete trust and confidence,” he stated to Phillips. 

The ceremony made Phillips the leader of a unique wing, which has approximately 2,100 personnel stationed across nine geographically separated units in the U.K. and Norway. 

“One of our former chiefs of staff use to say that every Airman has a story; I look forward to getting to know all of yours and sharing it across the wing, across USAFE, and across the Air Force,” said Phillips.  

Phillips closed the ceremony with how the 501st CSW will continue to be postured to execute future operations.

“We’ll be ready to extend our support to any warfighter in this wings area of responsibility to make them more lethal should the need arise,” said Phillips.