May 7, 2015 (by SSgt. Whitney Amstutz) - The “Fuujins” of the 4th Fighter Squadron assigned to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, took to the skies of Afghanistan for the last time, as they concluded their six month deployment to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, April 30.
USAF F-16C block 40 #88-0486 from the 4th FS taxis to a runway on April 30th, 2015 at Bagram Air Field. The 'Fuujins' of the 4 FS provided decisive airpower to ground commanders in Afghanistan throughout their six month deployment, flying more than 8,000 hours in the F-16 in support of OEF and Freedom’s Sentinel. [USAF photo by SSgt. Whitney Amstutz]
The squadron deployed to fulfill the wing’s commitment to providing decisive combat airpower in support of the 2015 fighting season and execution of NATO
’s Operation Resolute Support mission.
“Our squadron’s mission was to provide F-16 airpower to our ground commanders here in Afghanistan,” said Lt. Col. Todd Robbins, 4th FS
commander. “Our goals were to accomplish that without any civilian casualties in accordance with the Rules of Engagement, and never miss a target.”
Arriving in-country during the fall of 2014, the Fuujins were part of the historic transition from Operation Enduring Freedom to the Resolute Support mission and Operations Freedom’s Sentinel, a change that keenly affected the fighter squadron.
“We’re here at a unique time: the end of Operation Enduring Freedom, a 13-year mission in Afghanistan,” Robbins said. “As former Secretary of Defense [Chuck] Hagel said, during the transition the mission changed to supporting the Afghan government through the train, advise, assist mission and through Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, the counterterrorism mission which in his words, is being accomplished to degrade and destroy the remnants of al-Qaida, so Afghanistan is never again used as a launching PAD
for a terrorist attack on our homeland.”
Looking back on the months of unwavering mission focus, Robbins believes his team was successful in seeing their objectives to fruition.
“I feel we did great and I couldn’t be more proud of the men and women of the 4th Fighter Squadron and associated maintenance package,” Robbins said. “We flew more than 8,000 F-16 hours in just over six months and were able to accomplish all our goals. Not only are the people of Afghanistan safer for what we’ve accomplished here, our friends and family are safer.”
With everything on their to-do lists checked off and their relief safely on the ground, Airmen of the 4th FS headed home for a much anticipated reunion with loved ones.
“We couldn’t have accomplished any of this without the love and support of the friends and family back home,” Robbins said. “The care packages over the holidays, the cards and letters, the constant support for one another allowed us to focus on the mission and make it happen.”