409th Air Expeditionary Group welcomes new commander to Niger

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Chloe Ochs
  • 435th Air Expeditionary Wing

With more than 70 Airmen, colleagues, and mission partners present, U.S. Air Force Col. Kevin Lee took command of the 409th Air Expeditionary Group during a change of command ceremony, May 28.

Presiding over the event was Col. Calvin Powell, vice commander of the 435th Air Expeditionary Wing, who formally passed the group guidon to Lee after praising his predecessor, Col. Daniel Kobs.

“Col. Kobs, your leadership set a climate of empowered Airmen and consistently ensured mission success,” Powell said. “The Airmen under your command excelled, creating opportunity with each challenge. Thank you for leading your group through some extraordinary challenges in extreme conditions. A job well done, and I know you’re proud of them.”

“I’m excited to watch Col. Lee lead the 409th to new heights,” Powell continued. “You have a very important mission ahead of you. I have all the confidence that you will do so and do it well.”

Most recently, Lee served as the Division Chief for Operational Planning & Strategy at Air Education and Training Command Headquarters, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.

“I am very excited to have the opportunity to lead and work with you,” Lee said. “You probably have the most unique mission in the entire Air Force. You should take a healthy amount of pride in what you provide to the joint force and our allies and partners.”

Before Lee closed, he challenged the Airmen of the 409th AEG.

“You, as Airmen of the 409th AEG are empowered to continue this high-level support while strengthening the U.S. position where you can,” said Lee. “I believe strongly in the notion of empowered Airmen. So, my charge to you is as follows: do not let the opportunity go by. Be bold. Continuously look at ways you can help improve the overall security, reliability, and flexibility of U.S. allied and partner operations. Work through your chain of command to make lasting improvements. Keep asking yourself how you can improve the employment of U.S. airpower in Northwest Africa.”

The 409th Air Expeditionary Group is located primarily in West Africa and headquartered at Nigerien Air Base 201, Agadez. It is comprised of more than 1,600 Airmen providing secure, reliable, flexible power projection platforms across North and West Africa and base operating support integrator in support of combatant commander objectives and partner nations.

As an invited guest of the government of Niger, Airmen in the 409th AEG are committed to providing installation support and defense-in-depth while enabling our Nigerien partner’s ability to provide security and stability for Africans through training and other means. The 409th AEG activated in 2011, and consists of four squadrons split between Agadez, Niger; Niamey, Niger; and Sigonella, Italy.