Calling all Hunters: Commanders talk mission updates with RPA Airmen

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Col. Julian Cheater, 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Jamie Newman, 432nd WG/432nd AEW command chief hosted a commander’s call, at Creech, March 8, 2019.

This all-call provided 432nd WG leadership with the ability to update Airmen at Creech, as well as the geographically separated units at Ellsworth AFB, S.D., Shaw AFB, S.C., and Whiteman AFB, Mo.

They touched on a variety of topics ranging from reaching four million flight hours to supporting the Hunter family, career progression and training.
Cheater and Newman reviewed the progress the wing has made in the past two years and gave Airmen a preview of what the plans for the next two are.

Below are some of the briefing’s highlights and commander’s updates.

432nd WG priorities
• Win any fight, any time, any place.
• Empowering Airmen to innovate.
• Develop bold leaders.
• Support the Hunter family.
• Cheater emphasized “No matter where you are, whether you’re guarding the gate, an intelligence analyst, weather briefer, maintainer, or weapons loader, you play a critical role in saving lives.”

Suicide prevention
• Newman emphasized the need for team members to truly check on one another and the value of wingmanship.
• “We need you,” Newman said. “Don’t ever forget that. No problem is ever worth taking your own life.”
• He asked Airmen to look at one another and ask how they are doing, to mean it, and to be there for their wingmen.

Four million flight hours
• The Remotely Piloted Aircraft enterprise has now flown more than four million hours between the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper.
• Team Creech has been flying every minute of every day for the last 10 years, on station, in deployed locations and across 432nd WG locations

RPA bases
• More bases are opening up to support the RPA enterprise. This includes the new RPA group at Shaw AFB.

New RPA wing
• Tyndall AFB, Fla., has significant hurricane damage.
• Cheater shared that Vandenberg AFB, Calif., is a possible alternate to establish a new RPA wing.

Installation command
• Creech is scheduled to become its own, self-sustaining installation in 2019.
• The wing is slated to gain the personnel already working at Creech, but are assigned to Nellis AFB.

Installation infrastructure
• Five squadrons and one group have been activated to stabilize RPA operations.
• Within the next 15 months, a Force Support Squadron, Military Personnel Flight and Airmen and Family Readiness Center are scheduled to consolidate in one building on-base.
• Cheater also discussed plans to install a military clothing sales store and increase infrastructure for other stores.
• Wing leadership is pursuing solutions to provide housing for first-term Airmen currently living in Nellis dormitories, as well as off-base housing locations closer to Creech.

ISIS mission
• The span of ISIS control has dramatically decreased since 2014. The 432nd WG has contributed greatly to the liberation of Syria and Iraq.
Dwell
• Cheater explained the goal is to give Airmen the opportunity to spend time out of combat to attend exercises and professional military education courses.
• Senior leaders are committed to improving the quality of life at Creech. Leadership plans to bring Dwell to the squadrons who are flying combat year-round; to give them time away from the fight for training and other opportunities.

Human Performance Team (HPT)
• The HPT is a collection of health professionals and religious mentors who ensure the spiritual, mental and emotional health of Creech Airmen.
• RPA aircrew who are active in sensitive missions are unable to talk about their stressors to just any chaplain. HPT chaplains have been granted all necessary clearances to best assist those who are in need of guidance and better relate to what Airmen are going through.
• Psychologists and physiologists often don’t require an appointment.

Remote “R” device
• The remote “R” device is an award earned for hands-on employment of a weapons system that had direct and immediate impact on a combat operation or other military operations without the individual being exposed to personal hostile action.
• Creech recently hosted an “R” device ceremony in July 2018.

Lethality and readiness
• Newman spoke with Airmen about lethality and readiness starting at the gate with the wing’s defenders, but explained how the wing’s success is only possible with the force support Airmen, maintainers, bomb-builders and the other members of Team Creech.
• “You should remember that and you should be proud of that,” Newman said. “We’re proud of you.”

Deployment updates
• According to a U.S. Air Force news article, a new Air Force policy states Airmen who have been non-deployable for more than 12 consecutive months will be notified by their chain of command and evaluated for retention.
• Newman reminded Creech members that although the new process is a little more strict, there are programs to get them taken care of and back in the fight.
Promotion testing for Senior NCOs
• With the retraction of testing for promotions for SNCOs, it gives time back to Airmen.
• Newman explained that diligent studying often leads to missed time with family and friends. This change gives that time back to loved ones.

Retention
• Some RPA career fields have annual or re-enlistment bonuses and leadership is looking to make progress for others.
• Cheater described how stressful the responsibility of constant combat can be and explained the Creech HPT is an important resource for members to seek help if they need it.

Culture and Process Improvement Program (CPIP)
• CPIP is an initiative that began in August 2015 to improve the quality of life for those in the RPA enterprise.
• This program is still being worked, progress has been made in the past few years and is still a priority with 432nd WG leadership.
Childcare
• 432nd WG leadership is working to provide community housing closer to the base, improving the availability of medical locations and childcare centers.

Outdoor recreation
• The new Outdoor Recreation facility has mountain bikes, skis and other rental equipment.
• The Creech Community Commons will be open every Monday and Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. As customer demand increases, services will be expanded. More information about this location can be found on www.creech.af.mil.
• A new Recreational Vehicle lot was also unveiled in December 2018.

Family involvement
• Spouse appreciation day is an annual event where spouses are invited to Creech to see the value in the RPA mission and what their family members do for the wing.
• Creech cares events are hosted quarterly as well, from painting to escape rooms and chocolate tasting.
• Children’s holiday parties are hosted every year and the team welcomes all families, big and small, to participate. Past celebrations hosted approximately 800-1,000 people.

Bringing the future faster
• Cheater highlighted the recent innovative ideas and agility of the 432nd WG.
• The wing continues to emphasize de-centralized decision making and empower bold and innovative Airmen.
• Creech Airmen have generated precise coordinates, tested them on nearby ranges, and employed them in combat in a matter of days.
• The wing is utilizing electronic combat officer courses to improve skills in contested environments, as well as mission planning and execution cells for more proactive approaches.
• Team Creech’s Spark Cell recently partnered with AFWERX to improve combat plans and base processes.