Chabelley Airfield celebrates 10-year anniversary

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jayson Burns
  • 449th Air Expeditionary Group

In March of 2013, the 776th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron (EABS) first established Chabelley Airfield, U.S. Air Forces Africa’s largest remotely piloted aircraft base in Africa. Connected to Chabelley Airport and working in coordination with Djiboutian and French forces, Chabelley Airfield has maintained a decade-long history pursuing the priorities of security, durability and agility.
The 776th EABS falls under the 449th Air Expeditionary Group (AEG) located at nearby Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, and works as part of the group’s mission by supporting combined operations and initiatives aimed at advancing strategy-aligned priorities. This includes assisting African partners in protecting their borders with matters of national security.

“Chabelley Airfield is positioned near a geographical chokepoint to protect our national interests of freedom of navigation, and simultaneously intersects at a strategic crossroads enabling missions that counter violent extremism,” said Lt. Col. Anders Hedberg, commander of the 776th EABS. “Chabelley is a projection platform that offers Airpower solutions to meet the intent of three Combatant Commanders.”

Working alongside the 776th EABS is another asset of the 449th AEG, the 12th Expeditionary Special Operations Squadron (ESOS), which directly provides launch and recovery operations for the installation’s remotely piloted aircraft. Meanwhile, base security is provided by the U.S. Army’s Task Force Wolf Hound, deployed to east Africa from the New York National Guard’s 1st Battalion 69th Infantry Regiment. These Army security forces conduct entry control point operations and perimeter security that allow constant operations across the Horn of Africa area of responsibility from the 776th EABS, 12th ESOS, and Lockheed Martin partners.

“While on the surface Airpower solutions would appear to be the largest armed over watch mission in East Africa, it’s our assigned joint force of Airmen and Soldiers that are cornerstone of our Airpower,” Hedberg said. “Comprised of 27 different Air Force specialties who we can project forward to secure warfighter needs, build partnerships, and bolster strategic level deterrence, Chabelley Airfield is an important investment in East Africa.”

Since its foundation ten years ago, Chabelley Airfield has grown substantially to improve its capabilities and the installation’s quality of life. This includes organized morale events, improved communication connectivity and efforts to keep down dust and dirt. There’s also dedicated firefighting support, and a joint medical aid station of Airmen and Soldiers that train regularly for crisis response operations.

As for future projects, hanger refits and a dedicated water well are under way, as well as an engineering project to overhaul a runway that’s being worked in close cooperation with French forces. As the mission in east Africa continues to grow, so do the U.S and allied and partner nations.