422nd Air Base Group, 501st Combat Support Wing
RAF Croughton houses the 422nd Air Base Group whose mission is to provide outstanding installation support, services, force protection, and worldwide communications across the entire spectrum of operations. The group is the premier global communication provider in the U.K. and supports NATO, U.S. European Command, U.S. Central Command, Air Force Special Operations Command, U.S. Department of State operations and Ministry of Defense operations. The group sustains more than 410 C2 circuits; and supports 25 percent of all European Theater to continental United States communications.
The base was established in 1938 as Brackley Landing Ground. It covered almost 700 acres. In order to be built, the authorities had to relocate three huge farms from the area. Although the general facilities were relatively decent, the three runways were basically covered with grass. Its importance was not that big in those times. By 1940, the small base became a complementary base for a larger one in the area - RAF Upper Heyford. Since RAF Upper Heyford had to deal with a wide variety of night training sessions, many of them were directed at Brackley Landing Ground.
As World War II was getting more and more intense, the British government decided to split the British military bases in two categories - primary and secondary. The secondary ones were designated to receive the damaged aircrafts and repair them. RAF Croughton was one of them. They were considered to be emergency bases. Although the move was not quite the smartest, it did confuse the powerful Luftwaffe squad. The German pilots could barely make their decision about what targets are important. At the same time, these emergency bases were not that heavily guarded, so they represented some easy targets.
After World War II ended, the base was inactivated. It was turned into a storage site between 1947 and 1950. By the end of 1950, the base was given to the American forces. The first unit hosted on site was the 1969-th Communications Squadron, representing the start for a continuous update that turned the base into what it is today.
Over the years, the base was extremely important when it came to the communications in the area. It indirectly served in the upcoming conflicts led by the United States of America, from the Gulf War to the recent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2004, it went through a commission for base realignment in the United Kingdom. Many of the units switched their roles in order to ensure equal power for all the RAF bases in the country.
RAF Croughton is about 6-8 miles from RAF Upper Heyford and personnel routinely shuttled between the bases. It was not uncommon for personnel stationed at RAF Upper Heyford to live in the barracks at RAF Croughton if space was available. One advantage was that personnel who worked at night at RAF Upper Heyford could get a relatively undisturbed sleep during the day at RAF Croughton while the planes were flying at Heyford.