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F-16Cs on Monday deployed from Aviano AB, Italy, to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel and ongoing coalition capacity building operations there, officials announced. "First and foremost, we're here to protect the guys on the ground," 555th Fighter Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Byron Pompa said in a release. "We've prepared for the last six months to a year for this moment and our young guys are chomping at the bit to get in there and see some action," he added. Airmen and jets from Aviano's 31st Fighter Wing are relieving F-16s from the 388th FW from Hill AFB, Utah. The Aviano unit will assume regional over watch and close air support responsibility for the next six months, according to officials. The jets touched down at Bagram April 27, according to the release.