NATO Concludes AWACS Mission in Afghanistan

NATO’s E-3 AWACS component concluded its final two-year rotation to Afghanistan, where it provided air-traffic management and command and control over the country for nearly four years. The last personnel from the component departed Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan, on Nov. 18, according to a release. “The NATO E-3A component flag has been taken down. The mission has been accomplished,” said German air force Col. Werner Nemetschek, who led NATO’s AWACS detachment. Alliance-owned AWACS airplanes flew a total of 1,250 sorties, logging 14,000 flying hours and directing more than 25,650 combat aircraft since beginning rotations there in January 2011, according to NATO. The E-3s initially flew from NATO’s permanent AWACS forward-operating location at Konya AB, Turkey, until support facilities could be established in Afghanistan. The final NATO AWACS aircraft returned to Geilenkirchen, Germany, at the end of September, two months ahead of all of the component’s personnel.