501st CSW Unveils New Command Post at RAF Fairford

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jessica Avallone
  • 501 CSW/PA

For the first time in 35 years, the 501st Combat Support Wing has a physical command post on RAF Fairford. The new command post enables the wing to take on responsibilities previously handled by the 100th Air Refueling Wing at RAF Mildenhall.

“The standup of a command post was one of three key tasks given to the wing by the commander of United States Air Forces Europe, which also included solidifying community relations of U-2 operations and a move of our wing headquarters to RAF Fairford,” said Col. D. Landon Phillips, 501st CSW commander. “As operations activity increases at RAF Fairford to support Agile Combat Employment and Bomber Task Force deployments we need to have the ability to organically command and control (C2) our wing and report directly to USAFE-AFAFRICA.”

Operations at RAF Fairford have ebbed and flowed since 1944. The last time a physical command post was on RAF Fairford was during the base’s involvement in bomber support actions during the 80’s and 90’s, including Operation Desert Storm and Operation Allied Force.

With Fairford experiencing continuous growth over the last five years, having a command post organic to the 501st not only streamlines reporting, but frees command post personnel at Mildenhall to focus on reporting and notifications strictly for the 100th.

“For certain types of reporting, every minute is critical,” said Phillips. “So the more timely and accurate we can get the information to higher headquarters, the better.”

Because the 501st has nine bases spread throughout the United Kingdom and Norway, distance and time create challenges for emergency response.

“The way the 501st CSW is structured is that it's a colocation of nine geographically separated units (GSU) with one central wing,” said Tech. Sgt. Jacob Logan, NCOIC of C2 operations. “We function as the one C2 node for the entire wing across all of those GSUs.”

A local command post allows better information sharing across those locations and streamlines information flow up to the wing headquarters.

“This helps us assess information more rapidly and standardize the information that is being reported to higher headquarters,” said Phillips. “As a wing commander, the ability to walk down to our command post and discuss significant events face to face with our own expert controllers, always makes a sometimes chaotic situation a little more manageable.”