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'Kingpin' command and control squadron moves out of UAE

U.S. Air Force Maj. Christopher Tegmeyer of the 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron monitors information during Air Missile and Defense Exercise 21-1 at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, in October. Photo by Staff Sgt. Zade Vadnais/U.S. Air Force
U.S. Air Force Maj. Christopher Tegmeyer of the 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron monitors information during Air Missile and Defense Exercise 21-1 at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, in October. Photo by Staff Sgt. Zade Vadnais/U.S. Air Force

April 22 (UPI) -- The 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron began full operations from South Carolina's Shaw Air Force Base this week after 10 years of operations at Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates, the Air Force announced.

"No matter where Kingpin relocates on the globe, warfighters in the AOR can count on us every time to deliver in their time of need," Lt. Col. Virnon S. Garrison, 727th EACS commander, said in an Air Force press release.

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The 727th EACS, also known as "Kingpin," enables air operations across the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, providing the Combined Air Operations Center with a common air picture.

More than 150 airmen and coalition partners belonging to the 727th EACS have repositioned to Shaw AFB, the Air Force said.

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The unit will continue to maintain a presence at Al Dhafra and other bases in the region, and the Air Force said the relocation is "not indicative of a diminishing commitment" to its partners in the region.

"Kingpin's joint and coalition team have been providing world class command and control at ADAB for the past 10 years," Lt Col Joseph Faraone, 727th EACS director of operations, said in the Air Force release.

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"While we may be in a new location, our support to the air tasking order, airspace management, air domain awareness, and kinetic strikes will not change," Faraone said.

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Al Dhafra is the headquarters of the Western Air Command of the United Arab Emirates' air force and hosts the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, which was established in January 2002.

The United States and the UAE have a history of military collaboration dating back to the 1990s.

The two countries signed a Defense Cooperation Agreement in May 2019, formalizing their commitment to fighting terrorism in the region, according to the U.S. State Department.

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The UAE is also a "significant purchaser of U.S. military equipment," with $28.1 billion in active government-to-government sales cases, according to a State Department fact sheet published Jan. 20.

Shortly after that document was published, President Joe Biden paused a sale of 50 F-35 fighter planes and 18 Reaper drones to the UAE under former President Trump's administration which lawmakers had tried to block.

Last week the administration announced it would go forward with the deal, prompting a new attempt to block the deal from Senate Democrats, who say the sale could affect U.S. national security and stability in the Middle East.

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