AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar (AFNS) — It’s the end of an era for the U.S. Air Force, as the 879th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog Teams departed Eskan Village Compound, Saudi Arabia, in December 2017.
After more than 12 years of enduring operations, the Air Force transferred the authority of one of its most unique force protection missions to the U.S. Army during a ceremony at Eskan Village, Sept. 25, 2017.
Col. Thomas Bongiovi, 379th Expeditionary Mission Support Group commander, officiated the transfer of authority for the force protection mission from Lt. Col. Nathan M. Murray, 879th ESFS commander, to Capt. Filipe Marquez, 341st Military Police Company commander.
This transition was originally planned to happen nearly a decade earlier.
On Sept. 5, 2005, the Air Force activated the 64th Air Expeditionary Group and accepted responsibility of providing force protection and operational support from the Army at an undisclosed location. For nearly eight years, the 64th AEG continued the force protection and operations support mission.
In 2014, the 64th AEG was inactivated and replaced by the 879th ESFS.
While the size of the unit and scope of operational support were substantially decreased, the overall mission of force protection and self-sustainment as a geographically separated unit was upheld.
Charged with the unique mission of providing force protection for 25 percent of the U.S. government’s foreign military sales, training and advisory missions, supporting government agencies in executing short-notice security for the president and other distinguished visitors and ensuring the expedited diplomatic clearance of U.S. and England air missions transitioning through Saudi air space, the 879th ESFS exceeded all expectations.
With the force protection mission successfully transitioned to the Army, and the diplomatic clearance mission being absorbed by U.S. Air Forces Central Command, the 879th ESFS was inactivated during the transfer of authority ceremony.
By Lt. Col. Jason W. Hull,
379th Expeditionary Mission Support Group