Holloman visit by chief of staff highlights contributions of Airmen

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Sanjay Allen
  • 49th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The top military leader of the Air Force visited here Jan. 27 to talk with Airmen about the state of the Air Force and to get a firsthand look at what Airmen here do on a day-to-day basis.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz visited mission and support facilities on the base and met with local civic leaders to gain a better appreciation for the larger Holloman Air Force Base community.

"Holloman is a wonderful installation that clearly is providing the place for two very important Air Force missions to continue to mature: the F-22 (Raptor) and the (MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper) remotely piloted aircraft mission," he said.

The general kicked off his base visit by meeting with base first sergeants, receiving key flight operations briefings, and hosting an all call where he talked about the talent of America's Airmen, and taking care of Airmen and their families. In the crowded hangar, General Schwartz started off by stressing how important every Airman's job is in the Air Force.

"Every job is important, and all of us have to play our positions to be successful," he said. "The key point here is we are a team; all of us -- air, ground or wherever we serve. Each of us does worthy work and it's vitally important. It's the team. It's the Air Force family, both military and civilian, and, of course, our families."

He compared certain professions in the Air Force -- like those in the nuclear enterprise -- to a brain surgeon who must follow established protocols and always maintain excellence.

"There are disciplines, like nuclear business, where there is only one way to do it, and it's the Air Force way," the general said. "That's not to suggest we want to stifle imagination; far from it. But the reality is that in certain areas, like brain surgery, we want to make sure that it's being done the best possible way. If there's a better way of doing it, that's fine, but we will get that better way approved before we start to deviate from the Air Force way.

"The moral is there is a place for compliance in our Air Force," he continued. "I don't apologize for it, and neither should any supervisor here in the crowd. That is what drives us to excellence, and if there's a better way to do it. Bring it on."

A better way to do things was the motivation behind the Year of the Air Force Family declaration. The general said Air Force officials understand the military member's family serves alongside of their loved ones in today's military.

"We don't do anything anymore with only the military member in mind," he said.

"We're making the programs we have the best we can ... and we're working hard to make Air Force bases places where our people want to live," said the 1973 U.S. Air Force Academy graduate. "Bases should be a place where you and your spouse and your families can feel like 'This is a place where I want to live. A place where I want to raise my kids.'"

An example of that is addressing things like education concerns, the general said.

"Education is vital to our children and it is important to families and it makes living on Holloman better," General Schwartz said.

Another part of taking care of the wider Air Force family is preventing the loss of one of our own.

Suicide rates in the Air Force are moving along at an increasing rate, faster than previous years, the general said. He foot stomped the need for Airmen to reach out for themselves and to one another.

"I want everybody here to know that we care about you," he said. "If you're struggling, we want you to reach out and ask for help; from your buddy, from your shirt, from your commander, certainly from a health professional. And all of us must play a significant role in reaching out to those who need help, and never let a teammate get so distraught that they may actually think about taking their own life."

The general concluded by reminding Airmen of their unique and noble duty.

"We're different," the general said. "We have special obligations that sometimes require sacrifices on our part and our families. But I ask you to recall that there is no institution in America that is more respected than the armed forces. We need to maintain the trust of the American people that we'll do what's needed when it's called for."

The general then visited base units to see the missions Holloman AFB has been called to do, including maintenance, remotely piloted aircraft training, Basic Expeditionary Airfield Resources base, and security forces. He also toured housing and a dormitory. Each stop gave him a chance stress to Airmen how they fit into the Air Force's role in national defense.

General Schwartz noted the Air Force has a commitment to fly 50 RPA orbits in combat zones by the end of 2011, and that the amount of orbits could continue to rise. He said Holloman AFB Airmen "have a major stake" in what is an "enduring mission for our Air Force."

A demonstration and walk-through of equipment at the BEAR base showed the general how Holloman AFB can quickly support critical missions for military operations or humanitarian efforts, like Haiti.

"This organization really permits our Air Force to be expeditionary," he said. "To be able to go to places that are not built up ... and still be able to operate is an important mission."

The security forces visit, with a number of its members deployed, highlighted another important Holloman AFB contribution to ongoing operations overseas: those Airmen in the fight and those remaining behind to continue the mission, even as they prepare for their own eventual deployment.

The Air Force's senior uniformed officer said in parting that Holloman AFB Airmen's hard work does not go unrecognized.

"I salute all the Airmen here," he said. "Those deployed, and those here waiting to deploy, for their service and for their commitment to our Air Force and nation's security."