AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar --
The 379th Air Expeditionary Wing at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, the largest and most diverse expeditionary wing in the U.S. Air Force, enters 2016 committed to achieving greater results than the wing experienced in 2015.
Over the past 12 months, the 379 AEW has supported Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. The Wing’s KC-135 Stratotanker fleet, the largest in the world, off-loaded more than 700 million pounds of fuel supporting more than 20,000 sorties.
Additionally, the B-1 Lancer, the wing’s assigned bomber, dropped more weapons on enemy targets than the previous seven years combined and the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron’s Munitions Flight built every one of those weapons by hand.
“We accomplish the mission and set records on the backs of the airmen of this wing,” said Brig. Gen. Darren James, 379 AEW commander. “We execute at the level we do because of the dedication and professionalism of the airmen we have here. How they execute the mission makes us successful.”
Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Good, 379 AEW command chief, said he’s been inspired by the service members at AUAB.
“Everything that happens here happens because of every single soldier, sailor, airman and Marine; what they’re able to accomplish, regardless of the situation or the environment, is awe-inspiring every single day,” Good said.
“There are examples everywhere,” Good added. “Whether it’s the airman standing a post, the mechanics working on the flight line in 120 degree heat or the service member who is missing the birth of his second child because he’s making the sacrifice to serve his country, they’re inspiring every single day.”
While the 379 AEW has much to be proud of over the past year, James said he’s looking forward to seeing what the wing will accomplish in 2016.
“My expectation is that we’ll continue to break records and we’ll continue to execute at the level that we do because that’s what we’re here for,” James said. “It will be interesting to see if we can continue to set records; the pace we’ve set is pretty impressive and sustaining that for a long period of time, for any organization, is tough.”
The general stressed the 379 AEW will face several challenges in the future, but none greater than the unknown.
“The unknown is the greatest challenge,” James said. “We’ve seen that OIR kind of exponentially increased as far as work load; I have no doubt that OIR will be a long term fight and OFS will demand our attention since the determination was made to keep a U.S. presence in Afghanistan-but not knowing what’s ahead of us is the greatest challenge we face.”
To overcome this challenge, James said, it’s vital every service member has the tools he or she needs to be successful.
“Ensuring that we continue providing for those that are on the installation regardless of service is something I’m focused on,” James said. “Making sure we’re providing the best tools, the best accommodations, and the best equipment possible so our folks can execute their jobs is vital.”
“The most important weapons system is people,” Good said, “We need to take care of our people; make sure they have the training, resources and the guidance to accomplish the mission in an effective, professional manner.”
James also stressed the importance of every service member at AUAB understanding the 379 AEW priorities; mission, wingman and partners.
“Our first priority is the mission and it will remain so because we understand our job here is to support the warfighters, the Combined Forces Air Component Commander and the U.S. Air Force’s Central commander; mission will remain number one,” James said. “Second is wingman, which means always treating each other with dignity and respect, and we’ll continue to focus on that. The wingman priority also means quality of life; that’s providing the tools that soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines need to do their jobs.”
“The last piece is partners; that’s all about relationship building, whether it’s our coalition partners, our mission partners across the base or our host nation partners, we’ll continue to look to build upon and strengthen the relationships we have,” James said.
Another priority for James and Good is ensuring families of service members understand they’re appreciated.
“My message to families is ‘thank you,’ I can’t say it enough,” James said. “Without the love and support of our families back home there’s no way we can execute at the level that we do, knowing that our airmen, soldiers, sailors and Marines have the support of their families allows them to focus on their jobs.”
“We’re asking a lot of our family members and they enhance the mission,” Good said. “We have to be thankful for them because they allow the mission to continue.”