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ACC commander: Airmen make a difference daily

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (AFNS) -- The success of today’s Air Force is a product of the Airmen who are willing to put themselves in harm’s way for the defense of the nation, the commander of Air Combat Command told thousands of Airmen, members of industry and airpower advocates during the Air, Space and Cyber Conference here Sept. 20.

Gen. Hawk Carlisle used the opportunity to speak to this audience to highlight the courageous efforts of innovative Airmen in the joint fight and to praise the Air Force’s partnership with industry.

“We are the greatest Air Force in the world, we have great technology, we’re doing great things, but it’s our Airmen and what they do with what (we) give them,” Carlisle said. “And invariably, whatever industry and our government manages to develop and give to our Airmen, our Airmen take it and make it even better than what we thought (was) possible.”

During the conference, Carlisle highlighted the actions of two heroic Airmen in particular – Airman 1st Class Benjamin Hutchins, a joint terminal air controller, and Capt. Kerrin Caldwell, a weather officer. Their actions earned them the Silver Star and Department of State’s Meritorious Honor Award, respectively.

While under fire in Afghanistan, Hutchins dove into a swift river to rescue two Soldiers who had had been pulled in by a strong current. He drifted northward with just his mouth and nose out of the water as bullets splashed within three meters of his body until he finally reached safety.

Caldwell identified a weather analysis and forecasting training and technology gap between the United States and U.S. Southern Command. She shared weather processes and technologies with those in Spanish-speaking countries, and visited several countries to speak on weather issues prevention and preparation techniques.

“Let there be no doubt … Airmen are making a difference on a daily basis,” Carlisle said.

While Airmen are more than capable of carrying out the mission, the Air Force is also in need of industry’s technical capabilities and advancements in order to retain its competitive edge in a world of rapidly-changing threats.

“What we need industry to do, and what we need our young Airmen to do is help us be creative,” Carlisle continued. “We have to understand what’s going on well ahead of the adversary and be able to react faster. We have to be able to command and control forces across the entire spectrum from the leading tactical edge all the way to the (Combined Air Operations Center) in the rear and operational level of warfare. We have to create the effects on the battlefield, and all that has to operate inside what the adversary can do.”

As the leader of the Air Force’s largest major command, Carlisle ensures combat-ready forces are ready for rapid deployments. The Airmen under his command underwrite the success of warfighting commanders by providing agile combat support, air superiority, global precision attack, personnel recovery, command and control, and global integrated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.