CSAF visits JB Elmendorf Airmen

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Sheila de Vera
  • Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Public Affairs
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and his wife Suzie visited Airmen here during a visit to Alaska Feb. 15 through 18.

During the second day of his visit, the general, along with the 11th Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Hoog and 673rd Air Base Wing Commander Col. Robert Evans, hosted an Airmen's Call at Hangar 1 to discuss current Air Force issues with Airmen.

"It's been a long time since I was last in this hangar," said Schwartz, who served as 11th AF commander from 2000 to 2002. "We did a change of command here more than a few years ago after Suzie and I spent a tour here in the last frontier."

The general addressed more than 500 Airmen about challenges the Air Force is facing and the future of the force.

"I salute you for the way you provide mutual support to one another and pull together when it's time to do the serious work expected of us," Schwartz said.

The budget for fiscal year 2013 was recently released, and Schwartz told attendees that the Air Force will get smaller but remain a supremely capable force.

"With respect to active duty, reserve and guard Airmen, it's very important that we design this smaller force in a way that does not drive anybody into the dirt," Schwartz said. "So we will structure ourselves so that our tempo is sustainable for the long term, and so we won't burn out the active duty, the Guard and the Reserve."

Schwartz also talked about how Airmen will deploy through the new Air Expeditionary Force construct.

"The notion for the new AEF system is to primarily deploy as units, or major portions of the units, rather than as individuals from many different units," Schwartz said. "This new approach means units will deploy with their commander, first sergeant and senior NCOs from home station."

Suicide prevention was another key topic Schwartz discussed during the Airmen's Call.

"I make an appeal to each one of you to not let a teammate make the choice--a permanent choice--to commit suicide when you have the opportunity to alter the outcome," Schwartz said. "Our Air Force is a team, so please reach out to those teammates who may be struggling and need a helping hand."

In addition to the Airmen's Call, Schwartz had the opportunity to tour the base and visit with Airmen from the 212th Rescue Squadron, the Combat Alert Cell, the 525th Fighter Squadron and the 477th Fighter Group, and well as see JBER's C-17 Globemaster III operations up close.