U.S. Forward Operating Location Welcomes New Commander

Lieutenant Colonel Brian E. Bell relinquished command of the United States Forward Operating Locations (FOL) in Curaçao and Aruba to Lieutenant Colonel Richard J. Bailey, Jr., today.  

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The Change of Command is a time-honored military tradition which symbolizes the continuation of leadership and unit identity despite the change in individual authority. It also allows other airmen to personally witness the command authority passing from one officer to another. Passing the ceremonial flag from the old commander to the new commander physically represents this transfer.

Under the command of Lt. Col. Bell surveillance flights from the FOL achieved many victories in the Caribbean counternarcotics efforts. Flights from the U.S. FOLs directly contributed to the seizure of 148 metric tons of narcotics with a street value of over $2.9 billion USD and 296 counter drug arrests. Activities at the FOL injected more than US $90 million into the local community. Also during Commander Bell’s tenure, U.S. FOL military and civilian personnel volunteered their services in support of 82 community projects and were pleased to continue partnering with various local agencies to benefit the people of Curaçao.

In his closing remarks, he stated "Today is yet another example of the outstanding support, friendship and partnership the USFOL has experienced during the past year. Your attendance here reflects the relentless commitment that Curaçao and Aruba, through the hosting of our FOLs, has made to the tenacious international counter-drug effort in this key region of the world. On a personal note, I will fondly remember the people and my time spent on these islands the rest of my life. This has been the most rewarding assignment in my 20-plus years in the Air Force and the mission means a lot to the region."

Lieutenant Colonel Richard J. Bailey, Jr., was the Chief Air Operations Officer in the Joint Synchronization and Execution Branch at the NATO Joint Force Command Brunssum in The Netherlands, where he oversaw air operations efforts for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan, as well as the NATO Reaction Force (NRF) and other initiatives prior to taking command in Curaçao and Aruba. The U.S. FOL, 429th Expeditionary Operations Squadron, supports multi-national aircraft operations that conduct detection, monitoring and tracking missions supporting counter-drug efforts in the region. U.S. FOL Curaçao was formed as a result of a multi-lateral agreement between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the United States whereby aircraft and crews deploy to the U.S. FOL on a temporary basis to conduct mission operations.