News: From expeditionary to enduring – new AWACS squadron activated
Story by Staff Sgt. Timothy Boyer
SOUTHWEST ASIA - Against the backdrop of the E-3 Sentry, the 968th Expeditionary Airborne Air Control Squadron was activated March 25 as the first enduring AWACS squadron here.
Lt. Col. Peter Mykytyn relinquished command of the 963 EAACS and then assumed command of the 968 EAACS during the ceremony.
“The mission of the squadron does not change,” Mykytyn said. “We still provide world-class command and control in accordance with the assigned tasking order.”
During the ceremony, Col. Ronald Henry, 380th Expeditionary Operations Group commander, shared with the audience some of the history of the newly activated squadron.
“The lineage of the squadron itself dates back to 1943,” he said.
The 968 EAACS was activated in support of the European theater of operations during World War II.
“Its primary mission was to conduct deep strikes into the heart of central Germany, striking long-range platforms and airfields, air interdiction and close-air support.”
The squadron went through a couple bomber airframes before being inactivated in 1962. In 1985, the squadron was reactivated and redesignated the 968 EAACS, and was put in provisional status on Jan. 25, 2002. It remained in that status until it was activated here on March 25.
“This squadron was activated to usher in a new era in AWACS,” Mykytyn explained. “For the first time this unit will have a one-year commander supported by units from Pacific Air Forces and Air Combat Command.”
While the squadron will continue the expeditionary mission and capabilities of the 963 EAACS, it will also take on a more enduring role in Southwest Asia, keeping its unit designator as rotations come and go.
“The mission hasn’t changed, all we’ve done is created and started a new chapter in AWACS history,” Henry said.