MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, Calif. – Lt. Gen. Darren McDew, 18th Air Force commander, visited here recently to meet Airmen, observe their mission and learn about the challenges they face.
During his visit McDew praised the efforts of March Airmen, noting that Air Mobility Command’s success builds on the power of the total force.
“We have 40 plus years of classic associations and now these new Guard/active and Reserve/active associations are going to make us stronger.”
In addition to meeting with Airmen, McDew spent time meeting with local community leaders.
“This is a community that loves Airmen and this Air Force mission,” he said. “They are not fair-weather friends. This is a community that understands how to support Airmen for the right reasons and in the right way.”
On the second day of his visit, McDew held an all call where he thanked 452nd Air Mobility Wing members for their actions in support of Superstorm Sandy relief efforts, which he said was only the “tip of the iceberg” of the service March Airmen routinely provide to the Nation.
“The bottom line was you guys rallied to get the mission done and I thank you,” he said. “But, I want you to remember it has nothing to do with that one storm. This is a wing that has had a reputation for excellence for a long time … just like our Air Force.”
The general said the visit gave him valuable insight into the “wing of the future” while offering him an opportunity to call on Team March members to help ensure a successful future for the entire Air Force.
“I believe that this is the most talented, knowledgeable, and war-ready Air Force we’ve ever had in our history,” he said.
In the first of three key points he asked Airmen to consider, McDew stressed the importance of cutting out processes or procedures that add no value to the mission.
“The worst person to get to change is the person who owns a process and has been recognized for it,” he said. “They are afraid that their value to the organization is diminished if it changes.”
In his second point, McDew noted the importance of respect in the Air Force, particularly in light of issues like sexual assault.
“Most of us get it. There are a few who don’t,” he said. “I am absolutely convinced that if we decide right now that every single Airman in our Air Force will be respected and that sexual assault will end, it will end.”
McDew’s final point related to the need to help those who consider suicide a solution to their problems.
“I know that just because someone decides to take their own life, it doesn’t mean you haven’t done your job,” he said. “But we have got to keep working at it.”
McDew also took time during the all call to respond to questions from Team March Airmen. The first, from Staff Sgt. Ana Partida, 452nd Operations Support Squadron, asked about the future of Total Force Integration bases, such as March, in the current, fiscally-constrained, environment.
“We’re not asking you to do more with less. You need to do the things well that you can do well, but realize which ones add the most value,” he said.
McDew also responded to a question from Tech. Sgt. Jesse Gonzales, 452nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, about how the Department of Defense’s strategic pivot toward the Pacific would impact March.
“What are those things that we have learned over 11 years that are good no matter where we go fight?” McDew asked, noting that cultural sensitivity, being fit, disciplined processes, technical competence and expertise would always remain important. “That’s why they are core. As we pivot, reach back to your core. Shed those things you latched onto because it was convenient and good for this particular fight and let’s move forward.”
McDew closed by stressing the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and just as importantly having the right attitude.
“Many people believe the warrior attitude is in the uniform you wear. They’re wrong. Being a warrior is right here,” he said, pointing at his heart before thanking the assembled group.
“We have always been able to count on Citizen Airmen and you have never, ever let us down. You have exceeded every single expectation,” he said. “The only reason I continue to serve is because I serve beside you. Thank you very much for what you do.”