ACC leaders visit Shaw, connect 20th FW to higher missions
By Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves, 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 15, 2017
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --
Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, and Chief Master Sgt. Frank Batten, command chief of ACC, visited Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Dec. 12-13.
During the visit, the leaders aimed to reinforce the connection between Shaw’s mission and the priorities of ACC and the Air Force, while also addressing concerns of Airmen.
Holmes and Batten visited various 20th Fighter Wing groups and 9th Air Force as well as different organizations across the installation to learn from Airmen about their successes and the struggles they face.
Senior Airman Jamal Christian, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron tactical aircraft maintainer, was one of the Airmen who shared his experiences with the ACC leaders when they stopped at the 55th Aircraft Maintenance Unit.
Shocked at the opportunity to talk about the impact of frequent tours overseas and the need for experienced maintainers, Christian said it was amazing to speak with someone who could make a difference.
“With (Holmes) being able to speak with people who work on the flightline day in and day out, its direct information he’s getting from the enlisted core,” said Christian.
Holmes also hosted a base-wide all call to share his priorities: revitalizing squadron readiness, developing leaders and bringing the future faster. He and Batten also directly addressed questions from Team Shaw Airmen.
During the gathering, Holmes stated the Air Force is transitioning to a full spectrum readiness model in which Airmen must be ready at all times to face advancing threats from adversaries.
Yet, squadron readiness encompasses more than just prepared Airmen and capable weapons systems. It also includes ready family members, a subject which Holmes said Shaw is a pioneer of.
Holmes later said this strength in caring for families stems from the base’s variety of services, including the strong Key Spouse program where families connect to each other and the squadrons.
While readiness continues to advance with new threats, Airmen are also being developed as leaders to increase their success in hostile environments.
“We’re working to develop leaders that can win in joint war fights,” said Holmes. “We’ll work to better empower you, we’ll work to better train you, we’ll work to better educate you and then to give you the opportunities to gain the experience to go with it.”
By reaching a high level of readiness and becoming effective leaders, Airmen can then bring the future faster in preparation for the next fight.
This includes reducing the time it takes to create and apply improvements to systems and equipment across the Air Force, said Holmes.
Along with Holmes, Batten addressed retention concerns raised by an Airman at the all call.
“The key, I think, to retention, and it’s shown through some exit surveys, is leadership,” said Batten. “If we have great leaders and they’re able to explain to their Airmen how they relate to the mission and they understand they have an ability to do great things for our country and make a difference, (they may) continue to serve. If they don’t get that support and good leadership, they might not.”
Batten went on to say the local South Carolina community is working hard for service members, impacting retention by increasing the quality of school systems and creating jobs for military spouses.
Leadership at the 20th FW is striving to excel in the areas discussed by Holmes and Batten through the wing’s own enduring priorities of Mission, Airmen and Family, knowing the success of each part depends on the others.
Focusing on the mission means transitioning readiness to a next fight mentality, focusing on Airmen means helping them perform as leaders and followers, and supporting families creates a foundation for mission and Airmen success, said Col. Daniel Lasica, 20th FW commander, while addressing the wing in October.
As the wing’s Airmen work towards constant improvement, they succeed at being crucial to ACC and the nation’s war fighting abilities.
“The (suppression of enemy air defense) capability delivered by this wing is essential … and there’s nobody else except this team here that can get the rest of the joint force into the places they need to be to operate and do their job,” said Holmes. “Until you’ve done yours, nobody else can do theirs, so I need you. I’m really grateful for the work that you’re doing to regain that full spectrum readiness. It takes this whole team to go do it and I know that you understand that. I’m proud of all that you accomplish.”