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New blended wing activated at Robins

Release Date: 10/1/2002 9:51:00 AM

by Lanorris Askew Warner Robins Air Logistics Center Public Affairs

10/01/02 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFPN) -- "While many in the Pentagon and throughout the Department of Defense struggle to define what transformation is, I can tell you what it is -- it's you, it's here, it's now."

Those strong words of praise echoed from the podium as Secretary of the Air Force James Roche gave remarks during the activation of the 116th Air Control Wing here Sept. 30.

Two units, the Air National Guard's 116th Bomb Wing and Air Combat Command's 93rd Air Control Wing, merged to form the 116th ACW.

The ceremony to activate the new blended wing marked the creation of a new entity not only for Robins, but also for the U.S. Air Force where guardsmen and active-duty people took the first step in what is known as the future total force mission.

This new initiative focuses on active duty, Guard and Reserve members working side by side in all mission types. This merger is expected to increase the combat effectiveness and organizational efficiency of the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System.

As former members of the 116th BW and 93rd ACW said goodbye to their old units, Roche said that it has once again been demonstrated that the airmen who have sworn to fight and win America's wars are not defined by the patch on their pockets but by their warfighting spirit and commitment to mission, values and excellence.

"It's (transformation) happening today here at Robins Air Force Base," he said. "In the future, when other bases and other wings attempt to implement a future total force initiative, those who follow will measure their success against the 'Robins model.'"

Roche called the activation the first significant leap forward in aligning the Air Force for the strategic environment of the 21st century.

"What typically happens when people talk about transformation is you think of a new piece of equipment or some new platform, yet transformation is taking things and adapting them to the era in which we find ourselves," Roche said.

"Taking an existing system, like the B-1 (Lancer), investing in it and changing the character of weapons it carries will make this a plane that will be very useful for the future."

He stressed the importance of the "blended" portion of the change.

"With the blended wing we increase the opportunities to use the (E-8C)," Roche said. "We have fresh crews that can be there. We are able to fly the plane...without having to overburden the crews, therefore providing a degree of sharpness that's necessary."

When asked if he sees the blended wing as something that will be seen in other units in the future, Roche said he hopes so.

"General (John) Jumper (Air Force chief of staff) and I will be looking to see what makes sense in other areas. We think this is the way to go."

Roche said he recognizes that this change puts a very special burden on the guardsmen.

"We are going to have to get advice from (Col.) Tom (Lynn, 116th ACW commander) and (Maj.) General (David) Poythress (adjutant general of Georgia) about how this works," he said. "If it works well we will encourage other units to think of something similar.

The success of the future force initiative will be measured in various ways, according to Poythress.

"One of these ways will be how they measure up in the first wing ORI," he said. "Whether the unit makes its first operational readiness inspection will determine whether the blending has been a success. It will be sometime before the wing is ready for that kind of inspection."

Roche said the first deployment of a blended crew, and not just the active duty, will be a dramatic change for the Air Force.

"As airmen we must understand that "transformation" is not a term. It is a philosophy, a predisposition to exploring adaptations of existing and new systems, doctrines and organizations," said Roche. "Transformation is not outlining new programs or things to buy, rather, it is an approach to developing capabilities and exploring new concepts of operation that allow us to fundamentally alter the nature of warfare.

"Today we exhibit the innovation and creativity of our Air Force," Roche said. "The activation of the 116th ACW is a tangible and real example of transformation."

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