|Country United States||Size Wing|
|Active 1943–1945; 1961–1965; 2002–present|
Branch United States Air Force
Role Command of Air Expeditionary forces
Part of United States Air Forces Central
The 451st Air Expeditionary Group is a provisional United States Air Force USAFCENT unit. It is assigned to Kandahar Airfield and is also the host unit at Kandahar. It reports to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram Air Base.
The group provides an airpower presence in the Afghanistan area of operations. Its airmen provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, command and control, remotely piloted aircraft operations, and airborne data link capabilities.
During the Cold War, the Strategic Air Command 451st Strategic Missile Wing was the first fully operational HGM-25A Titan I ICBM wing in 1962. During World War II, the wing's predecessor unit, the 451st Bombardment Group was a Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bombardment organization, assigned to Fifteenth Air Force in Italy.
World War II
Constituted as 451st Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 6 April 1943. Activated on 1 May 1943. Activated as a B-24 Liberator heavy bombardment unit; assigned to II Bomber Command for training. Primarily trained in the midwest. Received deployment orders for the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) in November 1943.
Deployed to Southern Italy in January 1944; entered combat in January 1944, being assigned to Fifteenth Air Force. Air echelon training in Algeria for several weeks before joining the remainder of the group in Italy. Engaged in very long range strategic bombing missions to enemy military, industrial and transportation targets in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia. Attacked such targets as oil refineries, marshalling yards, aircraft factories, bridges, and airfields in Italy, France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, and Greece.
Received a Distinguished Unit Citation for each of three missions: to an aircraft factory at Regensburg on 25 February 1944, to oil refineries and marshalling yards at Ploiești on 5 April 1944, and to an airdrome at Vienna on 23 August 1944; although encountering large numbers of enemy fighters and severe antiaircraft fire during each of these missions, the group fought its way through the opposition, destroyed many interceptors, and inflicted serious damage on the assigned targets.
Infamously responsible for the bombing of a primary school in Milan's neighborhood of Gorla on 20 October 1944 which caused the death of 184 children and their teachers.
At times the group also flew support and interdictory missions. Helped to prepare the way for and participated in the invasion of Southern France in August 1944. Transported supplies to troops in Italy during September 1944. Supported the final advances of Allied armies in northern Italy in April 1945.
Returned to the US in June 1945, forming at Dow Field, Maine. Unit personnel were demobilized throughout the summer of 1945. Inactivated on 26 September 1945.
Established as the 451st Strategic Missile Wing (ICBM-Titan) at Lowry Air Force Base, Colorado and organized on 1 July 1961. The wing assumed the missiles, personnel and equipment of the inactivating 703d Strategic Missile Wing. The 451st SMW was the first operational HGM-25A Titan I missile wing. Construction on all 18 silos at the six launch complexes was completed by 4 August 1961. On 18 April 1962, Headquarters SAC declared the 724th SMS operational, and 2 days later the first Titan Is went on alert status. A month later, the sister 725th Strategic Missile Squadron, which had replaced the 849th Strategic Missile Squadron, declared it had placed all nine of its Titan Is on alert status, which marked a first in Strategic Air Command.
On 19 November 1964, Defense Secretary McNamara announced the phase-out of remaining first-generation SM-65 Atlas and Titan I missiles by the end of June 1965. This objective was met. All wing missiles went off alert status on 26 March 1965 and the wing phased down for inactivation. On 25 June 1965, the 724th SMS and 725th SMS were inactivated. SAC removed the last missile from Lowry on 14 April 1965.
Global War on Terrorism
The 451st Air Expeditionary Group was activated in 2002 as part of the Global War on Terrorism, conducting operations from Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. The group was responsible for air control of the southern region of Afghanistan, launch and recovery operations for the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper aircraft, the employment of combat search and rescue forces throughout the entire country and ground security and defense of the airfield. Included in the group are safety, logistics, communications, civil engineer.
Due to the growth in size and requirements of the USAF mission at Kandahar, the 451 AEG was enlarged to a wing-level organization, redesignated as the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing (451 AEW) and activated as such on 2 July 2009.
The wing was downsized to a group in January 2014 as part of the Afghanistan drawdown.