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20th FW commander reflects on year

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SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- During the 2017 fiscal year, the 20th Fighter Wing grew, faced challenges and claimed triumphs.

Through this period of progress and the first half of his tenure, 20th FW commander Col. Daniel Lasica said the wing’s priorities endured and strengthened as Airmen, bolstered by family and community support, completed the mission.

“This is amazing, what you have done in the past fiscal year,” said Lasica during a September commander’s call. “I think it’s important to once again look back and celebrate all the awesome accomplishments you have had as a wing.”

Among those accomplishments was the deployment of approximately 1,400 individuals, including Airmen from the 79th Fighter Squadron “Tigers,” and 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

During their deployment, the Tigers flew over 7,000 combat hours in support of 1,600 combat missions, dropping over 370 munitions.

The successful deployment and reintegration of service members would not have been possible without contributions from Airmen across the wing, said Lasica.

The 20th Mission Support Group administratively processed and transported deployers and supplies. The 20th Medical Group medically prepared and cleared service members to ensure they were fit to fight. The 20th Operations Group trained pilots, while the 20th Maintenance Group ensured aircraft operated properly in order for Airmen to complete their missions.

While assisting with the deployment of Team Shaw members, these groups also had accomplishments of their own, said Lasica. Airmen assigned to the wing supported two hurricane evacuations, excelled during a cyber readiness inspection, responded to 670 fire and rescue emergencies, served 166,000 meals in dining facilities, distributed 7.9 million gallons of fuel and 370 tons of cargo, and hosted four major family events and four Warrior Days.

These accomplishments did not come without a few tests along the way.

“That tempo is the biggest challenge we experienced,” said Lasica about the demand for frequent trainings and deployments. “How do you balance the mission, Airmen and family when those requirements exist? How do we get Airmen enough down time to … recharge their batteries and to get away from work for a little while? How do we really focus on the families when we’re heavily engaged with the mission? That was the number one challenge.”

Despite the trials the wing faced, Lasica made certain the wing’s three priorities - Mission, Airmen and Family - did not fall to the wayside.

Within the next year, he said leadership is going to put a fine point on those priorities to help the wing reach the next level of performance by directing focus to a new idea.

“The mission piece is the ‘Rapid Ready Weasel’ concept,” said Lasica. “Right now we’re defining how rapid we need to be and what exactly we need to be ready for. … We in the wing are going to do the best we can to start shifting that mindset to the next fight mentality on rapidly deploying yourself, equipment, Airmen, airplanes and being ready to fight in a contested environment as Shaw Weasels.”

Part of Airmen preparing for the next fight is ensuring they are performing at high levels in their work places. This includes performing well as a leader and a follower.

“(We must continue) to get better at leading where we are,” said Lasica. “No matter where you work, no matter what your Air Force Specialty Code is, what your task is or what your mission is, strive to be a leader everywhere you are. Followership is (also) absolutely significant. We’re all followers in some way and we need to figure out when is the right time to lead and when is the right time to follow … but really (working on) improving our development of leaders as well as our execution as leaders.”

However, working on completing the mission and improving Airmen would not be possible without supporting families.

“(We are) trying to generate wins for Airmen and families, to be able to support them better to show we care, to show them we love them and we truly value their contributions and their sacrifice to our mission and our Airmen,” said Lasica. “Family’s obviously a huge part of what we do. It’s our foundation and we can’t do our mission if we don’t have a sound foundation with our families. They’re the ones who support us through the good times and the bad times. They’re the ones back home taking care of other family members and everything else … while we’re out fighting our nation’s wars. I think it’s incredibly important and we have a very significant responsibility to take care of those family members.”

Meeting these priorities on all fronts helped the wing fulfill its purpose as a core suppression of enemy air defenses wing.

“The effects that our Airmen have had downrange and around our nation is significant,” said Lasica. “They’ve made a massive difference in our Air Force and wherever they’ve deployed. That’s really important. I think their fighting spirit and their toughness, their character and their courage, their ownership … those values that you see every day when you see 20th FW Airmen operating and executing the mission.”

Overcoming challenges to reach success and focus on wing priorities was enabled by the work of the entire wing, including service members, civilian employees and families.

“Absolutely every single Airman and every single squadron and every single wing staff agency is important and they all play a big role in making that mission happen,” said Lasica. “Every single person, every task they do, leads to that final end state of generating combat power for our nation. I think that’s very powerful where we can all look at that, we can look at that Shaw Weasel logo and go ‘hey, that’s us.’”

After reflecting on his past year as commander, Lasica had three thoughts he wanted to communicate to the members of the 20th FW.

“The first message is: Thank you for what everyone has accomplished and all the effort over the past year,” said Lasica. “It’s been absolutely humbling to watch and see everyone execute.

“The second thing I would say is to continue all the hard work and the effort because our nation needs us. Our Air Force needs us to continue with all the amazing work we’re doing.

“The last thing I would say is that I am so proud of who they are and what they do. It doesn’t matter if you’re an Airman or a family member. I believe this is the best wing in the Air Force, I believe it’s the most lethal combat wing in the Air Force and I believe it’s the best family in the Air Force. I think Shaw is a special place to be because it’s got special Airmen working and serving a really meaningful and important mission.”