KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Nine members of the 403rd Wing attended the Air Force Association’s 2018 Air, Space & Cyber Conference, Sept. 17-19 in Maryland, where they learned about new Air Force and Air Force Reserve Command priorities.
The Air Force Association is a volunteer-led, non-profit, independent, professional military and aerospace education association working to communicate key national security issues at the national, state, and local levels. The mission of the AFA is to promote a dominant United States Air Force and a strong national defense, and to honor Airmen and our Air Force Heritage.
Capt. Melody Gemuend, 403rd Force Support Squadron director of operations, and Chief Master Sgt. James Sieloff, 403rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron C-130J maintenance superintendent, both said that some of the best information they received about the Reserve priorities came from the commander of the Air Force Reserve Command, Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee, the panel group and a couple of the speakers.
Scobee said the Air Force Reserve needs to focus on our Citizen Airmen and provide the necessary support for them to do their job, have the ability to focus on skills training, and to get after the work of being ready for wars coming in the future.
“We are prioritizing our strategic depth, including readiness of the Reserve Command, and building a resilient leadership,” said Scobee. “We are going to be in lockstep with how the active Air Force is doing it to present and grow leaders in order to fill the needs of the total force.”
The other speakers that left an impression on Gemuend and Sieloff included Vice President Mike Pence, who gave a surprise address for the Air Force’s 71st birthday; the 24th Secretary of the Air Force, Dr. Heather Wilson, who spoke about the Air Force’s intention to increase the number of operational squadrons from 312 to 386 by 2030; and Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David L. Goldfein.
During Goldfein’s speech at the conference, he recited part of the poem “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “One if by land, two if by sea.”
He was referencing the military defense dilemma for the American colonists in regards to the two avenues of approach by British soldiers from Boston—by land and by sea, and the signal for which direction the advance came from, and whether one or two lanterns would be hung in the old North Church tower.
On that night two lanterns were hung and the American colonists were able to mass their forces in defense.
“Imagine preparing for an enemy offensive across multiple domains, at different locations and times. It is time to build on the foundational work accomplished over the past year to prepare ourselves for the fight that is coming,” said Goldfein. “One if by land, two if by sea, three if by air, four if by space, five if by cyber, more when we converge effects from multiple domains to achieve military objectives. We must strengthen each echelon of command to contribute to and lead multi-domain operations against a peer adversary.”
Goldfein also said that of all the services, it is the Air Force that is often the most flexible and the fastest in how we respond to contingencies from humanitarian disasters to major combat operations, because of the domains in which we operate, we are expected to arrive within days and rapidly begin projecting combat power.
“Sometimes the answer is a single WC-130J from the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron out of Keesler Air Force Base who flies into the eye of a deadly hurricane,” said Goldfein. “Or sometimes it is the rapid buildup of new bases to execute expeditionary combat operations to halt enemy activity. But, most often, the answer is somewhere in between, offering a combination of tailored forces that go forward, with forces that fight from the homeland or provide reach-back capabilities that support the fight.”
He said that agility and scalability, is what we delivered throughout our history, what we are known for, and what must be embraced and strengthened as to how we organize, train, equip, and present fighting formations in order to conduct multi-domain operations to compete, deter and win.
“We have been setting the conditions for this moment over the past two years and are poised now to truly advance joint warfighting excellence,” said Goldfein. “It is time to get back to our expeditionary roots.”
After attending the conference and listening to the speakers and the panel, Maj. Kelly Soich, 403rd Wing flight safety officer, said he learned that the Air Force is again moving toward having the squadron commanders responsible for fixing the things that can be fixed at the lowest level, ensuring readiness and being prepared to deploy with their entire organization and their supporting elements in order to establish, defend and lead operations by working the innovations and risks at the squadron level.
In Longfellow’s words “In the hour of darkness and peril and need, the people will waken and listen to hear …. the midnight message of Paul Revere,” said Goldfein. “They are coming. And we have from this moment forward to get ready -- fight’s on!”