A ceremony at its base in the Middle East, 83 Expeditionary Air Group paraded outside its Headquarters to mark the change of Commander.
Air Commodore Simon Strasdin who had been the Air Component Commander since October 2020, commanding 83 Expeditionary Air Group, handed over the position to Air Commodore Mark Farrell on 24th September.
"It has been a huge privilege to lead over 800 people deployed throughout the Middle East for the last 12 months. What we've managed to achieve has been staggering from continuing the fight against Daesh, to deterring malign activity but also reassuring our regional partners, and the wider Coalition with over 83 nations involved in the fight against Daesh. The major challenges over the past 12 months have been working through the Coalition to continue the defeat of Daesh. Now that they are no longer holding territory, they have melted away and continue to be on the run, but nonetheless they continue to be a threat. And so our ability to understand, to make sure we are able to protect our gains that we continue to stabilise and develop and support the Iraqi government has been really important. I wish Air Commodore Farrell all the very best. He is inheriting a group that has a very rich history, that is highly successful, and I know that they will continue to do well under his leadership."
Air Commodore Strasdin
Previous 83 Expeditionary Air Group Commander
Below is an interview with Air Commodore Simon Strasdin, on his past 12 months in post as the UK Air Component Commander.
Like his predecessor, Air Commodore Farrell is also a Tornado navigator although he began his career with the F3 fighter variant before later converting to a Weapons Systems Operator on the GR4. Air Commodore Farrell has flown in a wide range of operational theatres in the Middle East and worldwide including support of Operations BOLTON and RESINATE, and the Falkland Islands. During a tour on 13 Squadron he undertook further deployments overseas, including Operation TELIC in Iraq.
"I'm absolutely delighted to be given the opportunity to become Air Officer Commanding 83 EAG and the UK Air Component Commander for the Middle East region. I'm really looking forward to meeting the team and working with them. I've served in the Middle East myself on a number of occasions so I know just how important UK activity and UK support is to the security and stability in the region. I've been watching Air Commodore Strasdin's work from afar. He's had an outstanding tour over the last 12 months. Due to his leadership the UK performed outstandingly on operations right from Operation PITTING, the extraction from Afghanistan, all the way to restructuring 83 Expeditionary Air Group and making sure it fit for the future in both structure and form."
Air Commodore Farrell
New 83 Expeditionary Air Group Commander
You can read more about 83 Expeditionary Air Group and its new Commander, Air Commodore Mark Farrell, on its webpage here.