Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command, visited Creech Air Force Base, Nev., under the new lens of COMACC to immerse himself with the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing’s Remotely Piloted Aircraft mission Oct. 22.
Kelly, partnered with Chief Master Sgt. David Wade, ACC command chief, visited to enhance their understanding of the installation’s current and future operations, and see how the 432nd WG/432nd AEW are developing resourceful and resilient Airmen trained to project dominant and persistent airpower.
“There are things that our nation needs the Air Force to do, and there are things that the Air Force needs that only this wing can do,” Kelly said. “If you look across the spectrum of conflict — everything from helping with California wildfires, to helping our national security structure, to making sure that violent extremists don’t harm this nation — no other wing on the planet can run that gambit of skill and mission sets.”
The team began their immersion at Creech AFB’s air traffic control tower, surveying the entire base from the overlook.
From there, Kelly dove into the Hunter’s combat mission by visiting the 30th Reconnaissance Squadron, 732nd Operations Group, and the Persistent Attack and Reconnaissance Operations Center. As the Wing’s former Numbered Air Force commander, the immersion paid as a refresher, airpower recap, as well as an indicator of development to come.
While the ACC commander conferred within the combat realm, Wade participated in discussions relating to the 489th Attack Squadron’s Defense Support to Civil Authorities for the California wildfires, hosted an enlisted call, and toured the base’s new facilities that opened this year.
Kelly and Wade then regrouped at wing headquarters to participate in a mass meeting with commanders and chiefs to discuss installation infrastructure, quality of life, future for the RPA Enterprise, and the 432nd WG/AEW’s role in meeting the National Defense Strategy.
“These Airmen are wired to look forward to the future. I’ve been in the Air Force long enough to see the RQ-1 turn into the MQ-1, and watch the MQ-1 grow into the MQ-9; you see a natural innovation in these [432nd WG] Airmen’s culture and climate,” said Kelly. “As we look toward peer competition, we have to not only be able to survive, we must be able to thrive in a much tougher electromagnetic spectrum.”
Kelly also took time during the visit to recognize 10 select Hunter Airmen, a small sample of the thousands who enable the array of missions the wing supports around the clock. After coining them, he left words of advice to the Airmen and supervisors in the room.
“We do really well as a service in my opinion in two of three of our core values,” Kelly said. “We’re really good at Excellence, we’re really good at Integrity, we just need to make sure that Airmen understand that Service Before Self does not mean service before that which they hold higher than themselves; which needs to be their family, their faith and their health.”
The value of immersing the newest COMACC, and other leaders from the ACC team, was not lost on each level of leader who welcomed the commander to their units.
“No military unit or wing is unto itself; we all work in unison to execute the Air Force’s broader strategic goals and vision,” said Col. Stephen Jones, 432nd WG/432nd AEW commander. “It was an honor to welcome our COMACC, General Kelly, and his Command Chief, Chief Master Sergeant Wade. The 432nd WG Airmen at Creech AFB got to demonstrate their strengths and share developments; and all benefited from hearing the general’s insights and guidance in person. It was a good visit; a lot of information was exchanged, and Airmen feel inspired and motivated to continue to do their part for the nation’s safety and freedom.”