COMACC engages Airmen, discusses priorities

Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, talks to Airmen over the communications system, Oct. 17, 2017, onboard an HC-130J Combat King II headed to Moody Air Force Base, Ga.

Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, talks to Airmen over the communications system, Oct. 17, 2017, onboard an HC-130J Combat King II headed to Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Holmes flew to Moody to talk to Airmen and see the mission firsthand. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf)

An HC-130J Combat King II from the 71st Rescue Squadron rests on the flightline, Oct. 17, 2017, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.

An HC-130J Combat King II from the 71st Rescue Squadron rests on the flightline, Oct. 17, 2017, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. The 71st RQS flew Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, from Langley Air Force Base to Moody Air Force Base, allowing Holmes to see the mission and capabilities of the HC-130J firsthand. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf)

Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, talks to pilots from the 81st Fighter Squadron and 23d Fighter Group during a visit, Oct. 17, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga.

Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, talks to pilots from the 81st Fighter Squadron and 23d Fighter Group during a visit, Oct. 17, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Holmes discussed the importance of preparedness while continuing today’s fight and also emphasized the need to use a more conventional approach on the horizon for modern warfare. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Greg Nash)

Master Sgt. Tai Gordon, 347 Operations Support Squadron, asks Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, a question Oct. 17, 2017 during a visit at Moody Air Force Base, Ga

Master Sgt. Tai Gordon, 347 Operations Support Squadron, asks Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, a question Oct. 17, 2017 during a visit at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Holmes spent time discussing various topics with maintenance and rescue airmen during his base visit. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Daniel Snider)

Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, looks through a spotter’s scope during a capabilities demonstration by the 820th Base Defense Group, Oct. 18, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga.

Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, looks through a spotter’s scope during a capabilities demonstration by the 820th Base Defense Group, Oct. 18, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Holmes was challenged to find an 820th BDG sniper hidden in the wooded area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Snider)

Airmen assigned to the 820th Base Defense Group demonstrate capabilities during a base visit by Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, Oct. 18, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga.

Airmen assigned to the 820th Base Defense Group demonstrate capabilities during a base visit by Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, Oct. 18, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Airmen showcased the 820th BDG’s ability to rapidly deploy anywhere in the world in a moment’s notice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Snider)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, visited the men and women of Team Moody, Oct. 17-18, here.

While gaining an in-depth exposure of the installation’s unique assets, Holmes used this visit as an opportunity to explain to Airmen their role in the fight and how it contributes to his priorities.

“We’re expected to lead the Air Force by controlling and exploiting the air,” said Holmes. “I’d like every Airman at Moody to think about how they fit into that. Whether you’re flying or fixing something, providing intelligence for it, making ID cards or drawing blood in the hospital, everything you do every day is designed to help us control and exploit the air.”

According to Holmes, ensuring mission success doesn’t come without its challenges – and he emphasized the importance of improving squadrons, developing leaders who can win in joint-war fights and bringing the future faster.

The Air Force has operated in an uncontested environment against violent extremists with minimal resistance from near-peer competitors during the past quarter century[WNJSUAAP1] . However, the luxury of waiting for revolutionary warfare changes for another 20-plus years is no longer an option, Holmes said.

Now, adversaries work daily to counter the military’s strengths and exploit weaknesses that require faster action. Holmes said that this is an Air Force-wide challenge that is being addressed by leadership at all levels.

Holmes spoke with 75th and 81st Fighter Squadron pilots and looked to them for their expertise on preparing for modern warfare in today’s fight during a tour of the flightline.[WNJSUAAP2]  He also addressed flying and retention programs, expressing his commitment to keeping skilled warriors.

“We are approaching this with a full court press, we want to convince people to stay,” said Holmes. “A young captain told me that there is a value proposition to why people serve in the Air Force. They join the Air Force to do amazing things, with amazing people and they probably joined to operate cool machines, in order to change the world.

“So if we are going to retain people we have to maintain all these legs of it and make it a place where Airmen can still do that.”

In a smaller Air Force that is forced to do more with less, Holmes discussed how these challenges not only affect the pilots, but also the maintenance practices.

Looking to better manage the balance of people and equipment, Holmes listened as the maintenance and rescue community briefed about “people and iron,” which was centered on ways to accomplish tackling manning constraints and keeping serviceable aircraft within the 23d Wing.

“We are able to get the job done, but it’s a downward spiral if we don’t have a (healthy balance) of aircraft availability and people,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Dunston, 723d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander. “We have good manning, but there is an experience (divergence) that we have to address as well. We cannot replace experience with inexperience in our career field.”

Holmes stated that highly trained and experienced warriors are key. Although the maintenance manning in ACC is at 98 percent, Holmes said there are still challenges to training the large number of Airmen newly out of technical training but it is still a plus to have the Airmen in place.

Holmes anticipates there to be a training backlog that will be remedied in the near future so that maintenance units can be better prepared to meet the demands and high-operations tempo.

Strengthening the processes of air and ground integration was an additional aspect Holmes wanted to observe.

He spent the bulk of day two with the 93d Air Ground Operations Wing, seeing firsthand how the Spartan Warriors are doing just that. Using a hands-on approach, they challenged Holmes to scope out a simulated enemy sniper before witnessing a capabilities demonstration with Airmen advancing in Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle amid purple smoke to assault the opposition and secure Moody’s military operations in urban terrain village.

After witnessing Moody’s close-air support, combat rescue, base defense, and warrior rehabilitation operations, Holmes said it was clear both the 23d Wing and 93d AGOW were surpassing expectations.

“I was impressed to be around young leaders who relished the opportunity to go to places they’ve never been and take on tasks they’ve never been trained to do and figuring out solutions for them,” said Holmes.  “That’s exactly what we’re looking for junior leaders to do around the Air Force and it’s really fun to see people here are being brought up to do that.”