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CSAF returns to Home of the Hunters: Praises persistence, readiness through COVID

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein speaks to squadron leadership in a meeting room at Creech Air Force Base

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein meets with squadron leadership during a visit at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, June 20, 2020. Goldfein took time to meet with Airmen to discuss the future of MQ-9 Reaper developments, as well as ways to improve the quality of life for the Hunter Family. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailee Darbasie)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein greets Chief Master Sgt. Roderick with an elbow touch due to COVID-19 procedures outside of the 17th Attack Squadron.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein greets Chief Master Sgt. Roderick, 732nd Operations Group superintendent, before entering the 17th Attack Squadron at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, June 20, 2020. As a prior MQ-9 Reaper pilot himself, Goldfein shared his thoughts about the development of the base and the Airmen who support this vital combat mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailee Darbasie)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein coins Tech Sgt. Eric, 30th Reconnaissance Squadron flight chief, in front of his peers at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein recognizes Tech Sgt. Eric, 30th Reconnaissance Squadron Independent Duty Medical Technician (IDMT), during a visit at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, June 20, 2020. The Airmen of the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing are responsible for supporting combatant commanders and coalition forces around the world through the 24/7/365 missions of the MQ-9 Reaper. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailee Darbasie)

CSAF stands with 432nd Wing leadership at wing headquarters.

Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David L Goldfein, stands alongside Col. Stephen Jones, 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Michelle Browning, 432nd WG/432nd AEW command chief, during a visit at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, June 20, 2020. Since Goldfein's visit in January 2019, the MQ-1/MQ-9 reached four million combat flight hours, stood up the wing's first mission support group, and maintained around-the-cock combat missions though COVID with no degradation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailee Darbaise)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein speaks with an Airmen at Creech Air Force Base

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein meets with 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Airmen during a visit at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, June 20, 2020. Since Goldfein's visit in January 2019, the MQ-1/MQ-9 reached four million combat flight hours, stood up the wing's first mission support group, and maintained around-the-cock combat missions though COVID with no degradation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailee Darbasie)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein recognizes Tech. Sgt. Samantha in front of her peers and family at Creech Air Force Base.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein recognizes Tech. Sgt. Samantha, 432nd Operations Support Squadron senior analyst, at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, June 20, 2020. The Airmen of the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing are responsible for supporting combatant commanders and coalition forces around the world through the 24/7/365 missions of the MQ-9 Reaper. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailee Darbasie)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein signs a lithograph after visiting Creech Air Force Base, Nevada.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein signs a lithograph after visiting Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, June 20, 2020. During his visit, Goldfein toured the base to observe and discuss current operations surrounding COVID-19 as well as forecast the future of MQ-9 Reaper developments with wing leadership. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailee Darbasie)

CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. --

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein visited the Home of the Hunters to discuss enterprise and installation growth and see how the wing sustains their 24/7 Remotely Piloted Aircraft missions through COVID-19, June 20.

Goldfein’s first stop before touring the installation was a sit down with 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing leadership, who walked him through mission updates, the installation’s COVID-19 response, and quality-of-life improvements for the Hunter Family.

The Airmen of the 432nd WG/432nd AEW are responsible for supporting combatant commanders and coalition forces throughout the world, something they have done every minute of every day since 2001. Operations continue to be as successful as ever—in spite of a global pandemic.

“I’ve been so impressed with how commanders at every level, especially at squadron command, the heartbeat of the Air Force, have adapted operations and really haven’t missed a beat,” Goldfein said.

The tremendous demand for Reaper airpower became even more evident as the nation adapted to a world and Air Force, in response to COVID-19.

“Creech, the Hunters, the entire wing, have stepped up,” Goldfein said.  “They've delivered on every line flown, they’ve continued to operate downrange, continued to operate here, continued to stand up operations across the country, continued to modernize equipment, and all while handling this challenge of COVID in our midst. I couldn’t be prouder of the command teams who have stepped up to the challenge.”

The 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing team has employed several protective measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Goldfein was able to see some of these innovative problem-solving initiatives and the Airmen who enabled them.

“Being the first Independent Duty Medical Technician (IDMT) assigned to the squadron, I was afforded the unique opportunity to come in, assess the needs, and really create and establish the role that the IDMT would perform for the RPA enterprise both (at) home and abroad,” said Tech. Sgt. Eric, 30th Reconnaissance Squadron IDMT. “Being a part of this wing’s mission by ensuring each of our members is taken care of, are healthy and medically ready has been not just my mission, but also my purpose.”

General Goldfein also met with members of the 17th Attack Squadron, the 15th ATKS, the 432nd Support Squadron, the 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and the Persistent Attack and Reconnaissance Operations Center. These Airmen, with the partnership of the full 432nd Wing community that supports them, perform life-saving missions critical to America’s security and freedom.

“Our team of Hunters are dedicated patriots who let nothing stand in their way. Their technical excellence combined with a can-do spirit leads to exceptional accomplishments,” said Col. Stephen Jones, 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing commander who was a member of the initial team that weaponized the RQ-1 Predator and first deployed it in combat almost two decades ago. “These past few months have showcased our worth today, and have made our future potential crystal clear. Hunters are unstoppable.”

Since Goldfein’s last visit in January 2019, Creech Airmen have seen significant evolutions. The MQ-1/MQ-9 reached four million combat flight hours, and the 432nd WG/432nd AEW stood up its first dedicated Mission Support Group. As a result, Creech AFB now has its own courtroom, installation-managed construction capabilities and an AAFES Military Clothing Store. But the most dramatic advances are those related to the battlefield.

“I’m not sure we have a weapons system that has actually evolved as fast,” said Goldfein. “I’ve always believed that as the 18X (RPA Pilots) that actually started off as RPA pilots and sensor operators, as they grow now into the leadership positions of command, they’re actually gonna take this weapons system to the next level.”

As the only Chief of Staff of the Air Force to ever operate the MQ-9 and be intimately aware of the growth and challenges the enterprise has experienced and overcome, Goldfein shared his vision for the future of RPAs and the Hunters.

“I’ve been with this weapons system since its very beginnings, and I don’t know if there’s another weapons system that’s had more impact, quite frankly, on the fight that we’ve been in for the last 19 years,” said Goldfein. “This community has been as innovative as any other community in our Air Force; I mean it’s part of the Hunter spirit and Hunter pride to think of different ways of using this weapons system that we never envisioned when we first built it.

“If anybody were to understand all-domain operations, and global command and control, and had to operate in one location while command and control elements were distributed across the globe, and understand where we’re going with the concept of Joint All-Domain Command & Control (JDAC2),” he continued. “There’s one community who I can lean on, the RPA community, because they live it every day. What’s happening here at Creech is the future of our Air Force.”