The commander of Air Education and Training Command met with Citizen-Airmen here June 2 to experience a drill weekend at the Arizona Air National Guardâ€™s 162nd Fighter Wing.
As temperatures at Tucson International Airport soared, so did anticipation among unit members as they awaited the arrival of Gen. Edward A. Rice, Jr. – the Air Forceâ€™s top officer for recruiting, training and educating active duty, Guard and Reserve Airmen. The purpose of his visit was to see the Air Guardâ€™s largest fighter wing and meet the Guardsmen who train U.S. and partner-nation F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots on a full-time basis.
â€œWe have a rare opportunity to have General Rice with us here today. Weâ€™re honored to have him speak to some of our Airmen,â€ said Col. Mick McGuire, 162nd Fighter Wing commander, as he introduced the general during a commanderâ€™s call.
General Rice thanked Guardsmen for their service and highlighted the wingâ€™s impact to the overall Air Force mission.
â€œI pay a lot of attention to what happens here at this wing. The F-16 training that happens here for our international partners and for the United States Air Force is absolutely an essential part of the overall training enterprise. I canâ€™t over-emphasize enough what you do for the overall mission,â€ said Rice.
â€œWhat I have seen here today has done nothing but reinforce the thought that you are real pros at what you do, and weâ€™re lucky to have you as part of our team.â€
In light of fiscal challenges facing the service, he discussed building a culture of cost consciousness and creating a more sustainable structure that will improve the effectiveness of how the Air Force develops Airmen.
â€œOne of the strategic lines of operation that weâ€™re working on is something that we call C3, or a cost-consciousness culture. We need to be conscious about the costs of everything we do individually and thatâ€™s not necessarily natural to us. We arenâ€™t by nature a culture of frugality. Inherent in that is an opportunity for us to be more cost conscious in a way that doesnâ€™t impact quality of life, that doesnâ€™t impact service, that doesnâ€™t impact mission accomplishment, yet saves resources,â€ he said.
He pointed to several cost-saving examples including Japanâ€™s nation-wide use of electric hand dryers to cut the expense of paper towels as well as their adoption of cooler, less formal business attire to reduce air conditioning costs.
The general arrived in Tucson late June 1 along with his Air National Guard Assistant, Brig. Gen. Paul Ayers, and Chief Master Sgt. James Cody the AETC command chief. They met state, wing and community leaders for dinner.
The following day, the party met with diverse groups of Airmen representing all ranks and numerous specialties.
Saturdayâ€™s events included a continental breakfast with junior enlisted members, a mission briefing from the wing commander, lunch with senior enlisted members in the base dining facility, a commanderâ€™s call, a base tour and a look at the 162ndâ€™s Aerospace Control Alert Detachment.
Rice personally recognized several of the wingâ€™s annual award winners ranging from the Outstanding Airman of the Year to some of the wingâ€™s outstanding alert force maintainers. Senior Airman David Luu, Staff Sgt. Tiffany Hoeck, Senior Master Sgt. Alex Leyvas, Lt. Col. (Chaplain) Mike Martinez, Tech. Sgt. Mitzi Eggers-Aguirre, Tech. Sgt. Erica Seehaver, Staff Sgt. Luis Aguilar, Staff Sgt. Ryan Mount and Master Sgt. Henry Ivy received the AETC commanderâ€™s coin.
Rice has commanded AETC since November 2010. The last AETC commander to visit Tucsonâ€™s Air Guard base was Gen. William R. Looney, III in June 2006.