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CENTAF vice commander: Airmen performing wonderfully

by Staff Sgt. Phillip Butterfield
386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

10/1/2007 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) -- America's Airmen across the globe are performing well, said the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command Air Forces recently during a tour of Southwest Asia.

Maj. Gen. William L. Holland, who is also the vice commander of 9th Air Force, visited 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Airmen Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 as part of his tour of CENTAF's area of responsibility.

His mission was to meet Airmen under his command and assess their readiness in the deployed environment.

"Our Airmen are performing wonderfully everywhere, not just this AOR," General Holland said. "It really is a pleasure to visit and have our Airmen tell me what they do, and tell me with such a passion."

Airmen performance starts with training, the general said, and that's key to Airmen readiness. Expeditionary combat skills training is now taught throughout the Air Force, normally for Airmen getting ready to deploy in the next air and space expeditionary force cycle.

Training such as CST has prepared Airmen for contingencies such as operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, General Holland said.

"It's all about understanding our expeditionary mindset, and I think the Airmen have done that very well," he said. "In this AOR, I believe the Air Force has done well teaching our Airmen, and Airmen have internalized what we call 'fit to fight.' Dealing with the heat, dust and altitude of the desert, Airmen are finding out just how important being fit to fight really is."

The general also discussed the Air Force's involvement in the AOR has changed over the last 17 years, especially in regard to Airmen filling Army positions, called in-lieu-of taskings.

"In the beginning we played a doctrinal role, and as times have changed and the situation here has evolved we find ourselves in more nontraditional roles," he said.

General Holland also addressed concerns Airmen were having about the AEF structure changing and including more nontraditional deployment cycles.

"The Air Force is committed to stay with its original template of four-month AEF cycles," he said "It's only in special circumstances when Airmen are helping their sister services that longer deployments of up to six months happen." 

The general said he understands the workload today's Airmen must endure and he has noticed how the Air Force has transformed since he has been on active duty.

"The amount of responsibility that we have placed upon you is phenomenal," General Holland said. "But our Air Force is so much better today then when I came in because of the quality of the people."

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