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ACC command team empowers Airmen, envisions future at Shaw

A photo of Airmen interacting with a command chief.

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. David Wade, command chief of Air Combat Command, fist bumps 79th Fighter Squadron and 79th Fighter Generation Squadron leadership at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 5, 2020. One of the changes Shaw spearheaded is reorganizing the 20th Maintenance Group’s aircraft maintenance units into fighter generation squadrons that correspond with their respective fighter squadron brethren. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destani K. Matheny)

A photo of Airmen standing having a conversation.

U.S. Air Force Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command, Chief Master Sgt. David Wade, command chief of ACC, along with base leadership, recognizes U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Lucas Haas, a 77th Fighter Generation Squadron crew chief, at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 5, 2020. Kelly recognized 20 Team Shaw Airmen for a variety of outstanding performances. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destani K. Matheny)

A photo of a General and an Airman.

U.S Air Force Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command, talks with U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jonathan Schisler, 20th Communications Squadron commander at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 5, 2020. Kelly and Chief Master Sgt. David Wade, command chief of ACC, began their immersion at the 15th Air Force Headquarters, U.S. Air Forces Central headquarters and U.S. Army Central headquarters. Afterward, they headed to the 25th Attack Group’s remotely piloted aircraft operations site and the 20th Medical Group’s COVID-19 response cell, as well as the 79th Fighter Squadron and partnered 79th Fighter Generation Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destani K. Matheny)

A photo of Airmen greeting a General.

U.S. Air Force Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command, and U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. David Wade, ACC command chief, elbow-bump Airmen at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 5, 2020. The ACC command team began their immersion at the 15th Air Force Headquarters, U.S. Air Forces Central headquarters and U.S. Army Central headquarters. Afterward, they headed to the 25th Attack Group’s remotely piloted aircraft operations site and the 20th Medical Group’s COVID-19 response cell, as well as the 79th Fighter Squadron and partnered 79th Fighter Generation Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destani K. Matheny)

a photo of Airmen saluting a General.

U.S. Air Force Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command, is greeted by the 20th Medical Group’s COVID-19 Response Cell at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 5, 2020. In response to COVID-19, the 20th MDG has been selected to be part of Project Brown Herrin, an electronic surveillance program that is sent out to 400 members every two weeks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destani K. Matheny)

A photo of a General and an Airman.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jessica Distefano, 20th Medical Group, noncommissioned officer in charge of laboratory, briefs U.S. Air Force Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command, about COVID-19 efforts and future plans at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 5, 2020. In response to COVID-19, the 20th MDG has been selected to be part of Project Brown Herrin, an electronic surveillance program that is sent out to 400 members every two weeks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destani K. Matheny)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --

Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command, and Chief Master Sgt. David Wade, command chief of ACC, visited Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 4-5, 2020.

During Kelly’s first visit to Shaw since assuming command, he received a firsthand look at how Team Shaw, comprised of multiple major commands, stays mission ready 24/7 while striving for innovation at every turn with over 600 aircraft and over 53,000 Airmen and civilians located across the globe.

“Shaw is a key contributor to every single thing ACC does,” said Kelly. “It’s an incredibly important installation with incredibly important Airmen running it.”

Kelly and Wade began their immersion at the 15th Air Force Headquarters, U.S. Air Forces Central headquarters and U.S. Army Central headquarters. Afterward, they headed to the 25th Attack Group’s remotely piloted aircraft operations site, the 20th Medical Group’s COVID-19 response cell, as well as the 79th Fighter Squadron and partnered 79th Fighter Generation Squadron.

“I can’t think of another installation that has a headquarters the size of AFCENT’s headquarters, and the scope of responsibility of Lt. Gen. Gregory Guillot,” said Kelly. “Then you’ve got Maj. Gen. Chad Franks at 15th AF with 47,000 Airmen… remotely piloted aircraft, F-22 Raptors and everything in between, including the 20th Fighter Wing. It’s very dynamic and very diverse--it spans the entire globe across every capability in ACC.”

One of those diverse mission sets is the reorganizing the 20th Maintenance Group’s aircraft maintenance units into fighter generation squadrons that correspond with their respective fighter squadron brethren. The reorganization to an FGS, provides better strategic oversight to higher headquarters by allowing leaders to better oversee manning and equipment capabilities while decision-making for the fight downrange.

Airmen and leaders from both sides explained to Kelly how this change has been revolutionary, and since the switch, Airmen have been able to have closer relationships with their commanders.

“I got to talk with a lot of those Airmen,” said Kelly. “I could hear the enthusiasm, because when you let Airmen be a part of the solution, they buy in. It’s their ideas and their team and they get to work towards a better day, a better solution. That ends up being increased quality of work, which increases quality of life.”

The 20th MDG has stepped up to the challenge to innovate by creating an effective and cohesive COVID-19 Response Cell, a working group whose primary job is to ensure the wing maintains readiness while remaining safe and healthy. The CRC meets multiple times every week to present data, recommendations and concerns to wing leadership, who are then able to make informed decisions on how best to take care of Airmen executing the mission amidst a global pandemic.

The CRC in conjunction with the 20th MDG is currently leading the wing in Project Brown Heron, an electronic surveillance program that is sent out to 400 members every two weeks. Based on risk assessment, Airmen are either seen immediately and tested, or placed on a random selection list. The goal is to test 10% of the MDG, 10% of dorm residents and 1% of base population every two weeks which allows the CRC to have a full understanding of COVID’s impact on the wing.

Kelly also took time to recognize 20 Team Shaw Airmen for outstanding performance. After coining them, he gave words of advice, encouragement and praise for the Airmen and their leadership.

“It was an honor to show General Kelly and Chief Wade what the 20th Fighter Wing brings to the fight this past week,” said Col. Lawrence Sullivan, 20th FW commander. “Not only do our Airmen provide lethal combat airpower in support of our national defense strategy, but they also provide services to major command functions like AFCENT, ARCENT and 15th AF so they can go on to successfully support their operations. Shaw is a hub of strategic military power and our Airmen are the key to success.”