Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, U.S. Air Forces Central Command commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Shawn Drinkard, AFCENT command chief, visited Creech Air Force Base, Nev., Jan. 16, 2019.
Guastella and Drinkard visited different operational flying squadrons on base and the Persistent Attack and Reconnaissance Operations Center to get a hands-on look at how combat Remotely Piloted Aircraft missions are executed while also interacting with the Airmen who support them. Drinkard experienced what it’s like to fly a MQ-9 Reaper in a simulated environment, learning from experienced Airmen how they execute missions.
“My perception of the 432nd Wing is that these Airmen are some of the most world-class warfighters on the planet,” Drinkard said. “They’re world class because they’re well led, well trained and resilient. They can be all of those things because they’re empowered. The young force is leveraging that empowerment to make a difference, be more lethal and ready every single day.”
The 432nd Wing ‘Hunters’ support missions in AFCENT’s area of responsibility 24/7/365, flying more than half of the Air Force’s 60 Reaper combat lines. Since January of 2018, RPA Airmen have delivered more than 1,500 strikes in support of the operations.
“The entire Reaper and RPA enterprise is invaluable to me as the AFCENT commander,” Guastella said. “You guys provide persistent over-watch of every aspect of our operations across the U.S. Central Command AOR.”
He went on to explain how the ‘Hunters’ provide the longest endurance and precise kinetic capabilities that are valued by terrestrial land-based warfighters and leadership.
During his talks with Airmen, Guastella lauded their efforts in consistently evolving the Reaper and its capabilities to better support ground and coalition forces.
“Chief Drinkard and I saw this all through today’s visit, where the Airmen here are innovating every single step of the way and what they’ve done with the community over the last 10 to 15 years has been incredible,” Guastella said. “Without a doubt, continuing to build on the success of our RPA enterprise is the way of the future.” This tour also marked Guastella’s first trip to Creech, which in his words, was an honor.
“It’s a privilege for Chief and I to come to Creech,” Guastella said. “This is an incredible team of Airmen who are in the fight, right there with us, anytime we’re in the action in the Middle East. They’re always available, doing the mission every single day, and our service members on the ground, and in the Combined Air Operations Center with me, are very appreciative of the 432nd Wing.”