Thursday, May 10, 2007

TOP STORY >>General reflects on time here

By Capt. David Faggard
314th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

As the 314th Airlift Wing Commander, Brig. Gen. Kip Self, prepares to hand over command of the C-130 Center of Excellence Wednesday, he discussed the past 21 months in command.

A ceremony will be held in front of Base Operations with General Self relinquishing command to Col. Rowayne Schatz, Jr., who is currently serving as the Deputy Director of Operations and Plans, U.S. Transportation Command.

Reflecting back on his time in command, General Self said that he will miss the base partnership between the Airmen of the 314th Airlift Wing, 463rd Airlift Group and the 189th Airlift Wing the most.

“I’ll miss the partnership we have in developing Airmen and preparing them for combat ops,” General Self said referring to Airmen who leave the training units here, then go on to operational combat squadrons throughout the Air Force.
According to General Self, so much time in the Air Force is spent with colleagues that you ultimately develop a friendship and some of the people he wanted to thank were the base colonels, “in particular Dave and Tracey Watson [314th AW vice commander] who are not only great colleagues, but are truly great friends.”

But the commander’s colleagues were not only colonels.

“I am inspired by our young Airmen,” he said. “My most enjoyable moments have been with the Airmen in ALS [Airmen Leadership School] and the FTAC [First Term Airmen Center], talking to them and learning from them; being motivated by their energy and their sense of pride in being an Airman. That is what truly gets me up in the morning, knowing I’ll be working with these professionals to keep our mission going.”

“Our chiefs and first sergeants inspire me as well. There’s something special about being a chief—making it to the top one percent of the profession,” he said. “The diamond wearers are special too,” as he referred to squadron first sergeants, “they’re unique and special among senior NCOs; they wear the diamond with pride and that motivation makes them a cut above in my book.”

Reflecting on the 314th AW’s primary mission of training C-130 aircrews, General Self said that our base Airmen “are a select few that produce combat aviators and demonstrate what it means to be a professional tactical airlifter.”

As he thought about each of the 314th AW groups he said he is “in awe of the Operation’s Group,” referring to the junior officers building complex missions consisting of multiple aircraft and that this mission is “the most intricate and complex missions I’ve ever seen.”

“The Mission Support Group keeps the base going, from the flightline to the front gate,” he said stating that all services and quality of life for Airmen, families and retirees are supported by this group. “Daily, it’s an amazing feat and is critical to meeting our warfighting mission.”

The Maintenance Group has a daunting task of keeping some of the oldest and newest C-130s in flyable status he said and they have a unique mission of training future maintainers, while still maintaining 45 plus year old aircraft he said, it’s an “orchestrated discipline but is absolutely critical to support our mission.”

The Medical Group is “our professional core,” he said stating that the men and women are top notch in customs and courtesies and are highly educated and highly trained in the profession of arms. “They’re dedicated to the care of our families, Airmen and retirees.”

The men and women of the Wing Staff are “the best I’ve ever seen,” the 30-year Air Force veteran said referring to the people who make up various agencies like the Comptroller Squadron, Judge Advocate, Protocol, Public Affairs, Inspector General and Safety, to name a few.

Looking to the future, the General said the Air Force is constantly changing and “If you stop learning, you’re falling behind.”
General Self said some areas he’s left for his successor is to ensure quality of life remains a primary concern.

“Quality of life is essential for the health of the Air Force,” he said. “Our schools need to be followed through on,” referring to a local Pulaski County School Board statement that Arnold Elementary would be rebuilt. “Our children deserve the best in education as they are truly the future and our legacy.”

“The base must ensure Tricare continues to be the best possible,” stating that medical facilities and administrators are brining contract providers to the base to support Airmen, families and retirees and constantly improving facilities. “The Air Force also needs to recapitalize the older C-130s once they’ve exceeded their capable life spans and we need to retain our senior C-130 instructors.”

Thinking about the incoming leadership, General Self said “He [Col. Schatz] is a “full-up round” and more than capable to lead this team. He and Kim bring experience. Continuity and quality are only going to go up at ‘The Rock’” he said. “The sky’s the limit.”

See pages 2, 20 and 21 for more information about General Self and his tenure here.


Post a Comment