Air Force Featured Stories

CSAF thanks RPA Airmen, highlights mission importance

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Christian Clausen
  • 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and his wife, Betty, visited the Airmen of the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing to discuss the importance of the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) mission during their visit March 24.

Among his stops to various locations around base, Welsh met with remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) pilots, senior non-commissioned officers, and the squadron and group commanders of the 432nd Wing and 799th Air Base Wing to discuss changes within the Air Force, such as the new enlisted performance report system and force management, as well as the importance of the RPA enterprise.

In addition, Welsh held an all-call during which he thanked and highlighted the successes of the men and women of Creech Air Force Base.

"I'm here really just to say thanks," Welsh said. "’Thank you’ for how proud you make me every day, but more importantly, thank you for what you're doing."

The general went on to say that the RPA enterprise in total, from those who support it to those who maintain and operate it, have been completing a mission while making significant personal and family sacrifices for more than a decade.

"It's absolutely stunning. The story of the last 15 years for the U.S. Air Force is going to be absolutely rich but the centerpiece of that story is going to be the development of an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance enterprise that the world has never seen before," Welsh said. "Every combatant commander wants you, which is a compliment, but you also understand the strain it inflicts."

Welsh highlighted the effects the RPA enterprise has on joint and coalition war-fighting capabilities, and the important role it has played in helping defeat and deter enemies.

"Thank you for the things you have done and for the success you've had and the success it has enabled," Welsh said. "Thank you for the feeling of security you give men and women on the ground."

With the growing demand for RPA capabilities, Welsh acknowledged some of the additional stressors that have been placed on RPA Airmen and discussed his goal for stabilizing the mission to allow manning to steady, while still allowing those wishing to enter the ISR community an opportunity to do so.

"There are some things (about the RPA mission) that clearly have to change. We have got to get ahead of the training curve, we have got to get fully manned, and we have got to slow down the operational demand long enough to produce new pilots and crewmembers so that when others leave, the enterprise isn't adversely affected."

Welsh assured Airmen everything that can be done is being done to stabilize the force while continuing to complete the mission. He also acknowledged that demands for the RPA capability will continue to grow.

After reassuring the Airmen, the general continued his remarks by outlining a fundamental practice that is required.

"We have to listen to our people and offer ideas," Welsh said. "We have to care about the mission and our people now more than ever."