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Expeditionary Center commander visits 43 AG

  • Published
  • By Marvin Krause
  • 43 AG/PA
The commander of the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center, Maj. Gen. Bill Bender, and his command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Cui, visited the 43rd Airlift Group here, Feb. 8, during a six-day tour of Air Mobility Command bases under his administrative command.

While at Pope Army Airfield, the General received a Global Response Force mission briefing from Col. Daniel Tulley, commander of the 43rd AG; attended a meeting with Maj. Gen. John Nicholson Jr., commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, U.S. Army; held an "All Call" with the group's Airmen and was the guest speaker for the group's Annual Awards Banquet.

During the "All Call", the General thanked the group's Airmen for their impressive service, discussed his priorities and surveyed Airmen's real-time responses to questions using cell phone text polling software.

"Thank you for the work that you're doing to support Air Mobility Command, and in many ways, to support Air Mobility Command's most important mission, which is the Global Response Force mission," said Bender. "We fail as a nation if we fail in that mission, so you're on point for some very serious mission responsibilities and you are doing a fantastic job with it."

Bender went on to say that there is a lot of work going forward that needs to be done with our Army mission partners to get the Global Response Force back to where it needs to be.

"I just met with the 82nd Airborne Division and had a discussion with Maj. Gen. Nicholson and he was very complimentary in the support that they get from the 43d Airlift Group. There's a clear recognition on the part of the U.S. Army, the 82nd Airborne Division, Air Mobility Command, and the U.S. Air Force at every level, that having gone off to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last 11-12 years, that a lot of that mission capability that we used to practice and had a very high state of alert, has overtime atrophy," said Bender. "It's nobody's fault, we were doing what the nation was asking of us, but now there's a recognition as we come home with an environment that very likely will increase the likelihood of the use of the Global Response Force going forward in many different ways that we're going to be a part of that. I will submit to you today, going forward in our future, it is very likely that there will be increased emphasis on that relationship and that important mission."

The General also reinforced the priorities of Gen. Selva, the commander of Air Mobility Command, of mission, training, and caring and respect for each other to the group's Airmen.

"Gen Selva places a huge emphasis on a couple of things. First is mission, and as I said, the Global Response Force is an important mission for us arguably in that small number of number one missions that we have," said Bender. "Secondly, is training and he has stated over and over again to his leaders, Gen. McDew at 18th Air Force and myself, that we have lots of work to do on the training side, not so much in your specialties, certainly a lot in certain key areas of our Air Force that we've allowed to atrophy over time as we transform our service to an expeditionary service. Where the Global Response Force is concerned, we've got to get back together with the Army and train through exercise and get ready for a critically important mission for our nation."

The General solicited real time cell phone text polling to several questions during the "All Call", providing instant feedback from the group's Airmen to the General's questions, allowing him to effectively explain current organizational challenges in the Air Force.

"From my perspective where I sit, we are very familiar with the challenges that you face here and we've been working them extremely hard, but they're hard and they're complex and in every case, ever single office that we go to where they may have had more people, a better resource, and a better ability to handle whatever the problem is to address it, they also have the same challenges. They're now part of a smaller organization that has over many years now given up some of their resources," said Bender. "The challenge for all of us is to push as much as we can down to the very lowest part of the organization where the work gets done, to get you as the experts to address the problems."

He provided examples of Airmen creatively tackling problems normally accomplished at higher levels in the organization, using innovation, collaboration and teamwork to solve problems at the lowest level where the work is accomplished by the experts.

"You cannot, in today's environment, expect that an easy way that you're going to get resolution to difficult problems in a timely fashion is through a hierarchical approach," said Bender. "We need to take on a spirit of volunteerism and identify problems we need to fix in creative ways, working together to fix them."

The General culminated his visit by attending and speaking at the group's annual awards banquet, honoring the group's best of the best performers for 2012.