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COMACC visits Southwest Asia

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Carrie Hinson
  • U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs
U.S. Air Force Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, visited Air Expeditionary Wing Airmen at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia Nov. 24 during his first trip to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility since assuming his new position..

Carlisle and Chief Master Sgt. Steve McDonald, ACC command chief, toured different facilities and visited with Airmen, seeing first-hand the multi-faceted capabilities that stem from Airmen’s efforts in the ongoing fight against ISIL.

Upon arriving at a wing hangar for a scheduled all-call, the view and the sound of hundreds of Airmen clapping and cheering traveled across the flight line, overwhelming the general as he walked to the stage.

“I am amazed! Somebody hand me a phone, I need to do a selfie,” said the general. “My mother would be so proud. Seriously, she won’t believe this!”

Carlisle began his remarks by thanking Airmen for the contributions they make every day in order to keep others safe.

“I know you guys have an incredible amount of work to do,” said Carlisle. “I know you have long days and I know what you’re doing day in and day out and it is simply amazing.”

Highlighting legendary Airmen such as Jimmy Doolittle, Frank Guggenheim and Billy Mitchell, the general went on to talk about how history has and will continue to play an important role in our heritage. He stressed that the achievements of Airmen in the AOR today are no less significant than what past Airmen have accomplished.

“What you’re doing every day, what you’ve done since June 28 [2014], and what you’ve done since you’ve been in theater is make history--exactly like these folks did,” said Carlisle. “I will tell you for a fact that 20 or 30 years from now people are going to be reading the history of what you did in response to the ISIS attacks.”

The general also addressed the recent hot topic of force management and personally apologized for the turmoil and turbulence that it caused Airmen.

“Nobody wanted to do that; unfortunately, we were in a position where we absolutely had to. We had no other alternative,” said Carlisle. “The good news for us today is … we’re going to stop the reduction in force and we’re actually not going to take quite as many folks out of the Air Force as originally planned.”

Carlisle also offered his perspective on the future of the Air Force budget.

“There’s not a question about what’s going to happen in the next few years, the budget is going down,” said the general. “There’s absolutely nothing we can do about it.”

Despite a declining budget, the general stressed the importance of sustaining a quality force and the aircraft and systems needed to ensure the Air Force can continue to do what the Nation asks of it.

“This [lower budget] is what the future’s going to look like,” said Carlisle. “There are challenges in front of us, but we will make it through because we have people like you doing the job day in and day out.”

Safety, suicides and sexual assaults were also discussed by the general, who emphasized that Airmen need to have tough conversations with each other in order to address these difficult issues.

“Our culture is based on Check Six,” he said. “We fly airplanes side-by-side and look behind each other to make sure nobody’s sneaking up on us. That’s what we’ve been doing for 100 years in flying airplanes. It is the same with taking care of one another in every environment; we have to have each other’s backs.”

As the general’s visit came to an end, he once again expressed his gratitude to the Airmen and thanked them for helping to ensure America has the most powerful Air Force in the world.

“Less than one percent of the Nation volunteers to defend their Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic,” said the general. “You are that glorious one percent that makes the sacrifice and is willing to do everything your nation asks so you, step up and take the fight to the enemy, and win it, putting yourself in harm’s way. Our Nation owes every single one of you a debt of gratitude for what you do.”