Col. Arturo Di Martino, Operations Wing and Training Wing commander, passes the Squadron Two guidon to Lt. Col. Andrea Franzese, who assumed command of the ‘Lions’ Sept. 4, 2014,
during a change-of-command ceremony at the E-3A on NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen. (Photo by Andrea Hohenforst)
Leadership, Flying Squadron Two personnel and other members of the E-3A Component witnessed a change-of-command ceremony Sept. 4, 2014, at the E-3A Club on NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany.
Col. Arturo Di Martino, Operations Wing and Training Wing commander, presided over the ceremony as Lt. Col. Jose L. Romero relinquished command of Squadron Two and Lt. Col. Andrea Franzese assumed command of the ‘Lions.’
"Being a squadron commander is a difficult task, especially when we are operating from five different locations," Colonel Di Martino said. "We are losing a very experienced and qualified leader, but Italy has given us one of its best officers to fill this position.”
Lt. Col. Andrea Franzese gives a speech after assuming command of Squadron Two during a ceremony at the E-3A on NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen. Colonel Romero severed as the leader of Squadron Two for approximately two years, but before relinquishing control, he offered some words of advice for the new commander.
"You can’t teach them," he explained. "They know this business better than both of us; all you have to do is manage them. As commander, just be honest with them and they will be loyal."
Shortly after Colonel Romero’s speech ended, the crowd observed the passing of the guidon, a symbolic gesture that signifies the transition of command from one officer to another. By accepting the guidon, Colonel Franzese took responsibility of Squadron Two and became the unit’s 17th commander.
"This is a very prestigious and rewarding assignment," Colonel Franzese said. "Taking command of this outstanding group is a source of pride for me."
He went to explain that this a "time full of challenges and changes” for the Component but he expects "active, enthusiastic and determined participation” from every ‘Lion’ in Squadron Two.
"I know I can count on you,” Colonel Franzese said. "I’ll always be here for you and I’ll always be by your side.
History of Flying Squadron Two
Flying Squadron 2 is one of three operational NATO AWACS Squadrons that comprise the NATO E-3A Component based in Geilenkirchen, Germany.
Flying Squadron 2 was born in September 1982, and initially consisted of only 23 crewmembers / support personnel. Shortly after its birth, the fledgling Squadron 2 led the first ever deployment of an NATO E-3A aircraft to Canada, where two crews supported exercise "Maple Flag” with the distinction, dedication, and professionalism that were to become its signature trademarks, and which today make Squadron 2 a coveted training partner around the world.
The number of squadron personnel has changed over the years, and Squadron 2 now encompasses approximately 120 crewmembers and support personnel from 17 different NATO Nations.
A short list of the Squadron’s participation in military/peacekeeping operations include:
GULF WAR I
THE BALKAN WAR
- Deny Flight
- Deliberate Forge
- Decisive Endeavour
- Allied Force
- Deliberate Guard
- Joint Guardian
After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the Global War on Terrorism took center stage, and Squadron 2 was there to join Operation Eagle Assist, flying missions over the United States thus providing over 2000 flying hours of support to our American partners.
During 2012, the NATO E-3A Component faced the demands of managing contingencies in two different theaters of operations. Squadron 2 became part of an unprecedented deployment in support of the NATO/ISAF missions in Afghanistan, flying the very first E-3A operational mission over Afghanistan. Since January 2011, the Squadron has been a team contributor to a multitude of combat sorties in support of Operation Afghan Assist, boasting an amazing mission on-station rate of better than 94%.
But also, during the same period, Squadron 2 was committed to combat terrorism and piracy in the Mediterranean Sea as part of Operation Active Endeavour. Without batting an eye, the Squadron switched roles to support NATO in enforcing the No-Fly Zone over Libya as part of Operation Unified Protector. During this time, an average of 45 Squadron 2 members were deployed to an operational theater on any given day. Thanks to an impressive mission on-station rate of 100% which supported more than 160 days of persistent Air-to-Ground operations, the Gaddafi regime finally fell.
2014 is being also a challenging year. We, the Lions, are still involving in Afghanistan flights and, at the same time, we are reinforcing the confidence of the NATO partners reinforcing some of the eastern Allies borders.
Whether the call is to participate in military and/or peacekeeping operations, to patrol the skies over significant high-visibility events or combating terrorism and piracy, Squadron 2 was, is, and always will be ready for the challenge! p;