FORT DRUM, N.Y. --
The commander of Air Combat Command visited Airmen belonging to the 18th Air Support Operations Group during Warfighters Exercise (WFX) 18-1 Oct. 9.
U.S. Air Force Gen. Mike Holmes observed the WFX, which is designed to test a commander’s ability to direct their forces and successfully defeat the enemy.
WFX 18-1 tested 10th Mountain Division Commander U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Walter E Piatt and also assessed the ability of everyone under his command to successfully execute their missions, including Air Force assets allocated to him.
“This was a chance for me to see them in action alongside the Army division they’re aligned with,” Holmes said. “It’s about developing our leaders in our air support operations group and squadrons to bring everything the Air Force provides in combined arms combat alongside the Army.”
Whenever Soldiers or Airmen go downrange, a commander is responsible for every decision made, from deciding which teams battle what threats to approving strategies and providing additional support.
“This exercise helps the Air Force and Army build our readiness to face-off in contested environments against peer adversaries,” Holmes explained. “It’s really great to get out to where Airmen are doing the business of the Air Force. It helps us to remember our job is to make sure they have the training, tools, and equipment they need to succeed while they’re finding new ways to win.”
Airmen have to find ways to be successful as tactical air control party members, joint terminal attack controllers, and weather technicians out in the field, and there was no better way to highlight their capabilities than to show Holmes what they do.
“It’s a pretty big deal when a four-star [major command] commander is willing to spend a whole day with us to look at how we’re integrating in a division-level exercise,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Dane Crawford, 18th Air Support Operations Group (ASOG) commander. “He also spent time talking to our Airmen and heard them communicate the shortfalls and successes we’ve had and that’s huge for our community.”
While the ASOG community appreciated the time Holmes spent at the squadron and talking with Airmen, Holmes also took the opportunity to listen and learn from them.
“For me, this visit was about what I could learn from them,” Holmes said. “I’m going to visit their parent wing, the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing in a few weeks, but this was a chance for me to see them in action. I got to see the work they’re doing and how they’re finding new and better ways to integrate the forces together, as well as some of the challenges they face doing that.
“The best part about my job is that I have some power and authority to fix things that are getting in the way of Airmen doing the job we ask them to,” Holmes added.