By Senior Airman Joe W. McFadden, 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 22, 2013
SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany --
U.S. Air Force Gen. Frank Gorenc, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, and Chief Master Sgt. James Davis, USAFE and AFAFRICA command chief, toured Spangdahlem Air Base Oct. 18 to tout the value of mentorship and leadership development during times of change.
The visit represented the general and chief's first visit to Spangdahlem since assuming their respective USAFE/AFAFRICA leadership roles in August. As commander, the general is responsible for Air Force activities, conducted through 3rd Air Force, in an area of operations covering more than 19 million square miles.
"The men and women of the 52nd Fighter Wing have been doing a spectacular job and bringing combat power from the air in a precise way," the general said. "This wing has an enormous role in the mission in Africa; has an enormous role in the mission in Europe and will continue to have an enormous role in the mission in Central Command. And given some of the capabilities here, we support a lot of global operations all over the world. The future is bright for Spangdahlem and the 52nd Fighter Wing."
As the command chief, Davis is the senior enlisted advisor to the commander on all matters affecting the readiness, training, professional development and effective utilization of more than 21,000 enlisted service members.
"I'm thrilled to be here in Saber Nation," Davis said. "The things we've been told and the things we've seen really do typify who you are and what you're doing on a daily basis. I want to say 'thank you.'"
Hosted by Col. David Julazadeh, 52nd FW commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Matthew Grengs, 52nd FW command chief, the general and chief toured various sites on base including the medical clinic, the Pitsenbarger Airman Leadership School, Club Eifel, the Air Mobility Command passenger terminal, the 726th Air Mobility Squadron and the 480th Fighter Squadron.
The leaders also conducted an all-call in the Skelton Memorial Fitness Center with nearly 2,000 Saber Airmen, providing their perspectives on leadership as well as answering questions on topics like fitness standards and performance feedback changes.
The general began his presentation by underscoring how history proves change is inevitable.
"When I came in the Air Force in 1979 and graduated from the Air Force Academy, I walked into the Cold War Air Force," Gorenc said. "It was an Air Force that was 600,000-people strong, active duty. It was designed to be as strong and forward as possible to meet the threat of the Soviet Union."
While several NATO bases populated half the European continent during this era, the general said the task of avoiding a potential nuclear war gave way with the sundering of the Iron Curtain. The end of the Cold War presented a new challenge to find a mission focus as well as an opportunity for downsizing the force.
"All of a sudden, the entire environment that we were operating in changed," the general said, while referencing how the Gulf War, 9/11 and the current fiscal atmosphere offered similar seismic shifts throughout his 34-year career. "The whole point behind this is just as you get comfortable at doing what you're doing in your business and get used to the ops tempo of deployment, something happens inevitably and clearly we are absolutely out-of-sync in organization, force structure and anything else and now we have to make an adjustment in the way we're operating. But one thing I do know is that we're going to make the adjustment and come out better than we did before."
The chief echoed the commander's sentiments while highlighting the role each Airman had when making small changes to affect the larger enterprise.
"We're going through some challenging times right now, and we need each and every one of you all to be on board with what's happening now in our United States Air Force," Davis said. "There are three things I want to know from you all whenever I visit a base: What are you doing right, what are we doing wrong and how can we fix it? We're only as effective as you allow us to be."
To make full use of all Airmen's contributions, the general said he wants to ensure all Airmen are fully invested in their development through training, education and on-the-job experience.
"As a commander, it's our responsibility to provide the opportunities to fully develop in training, education and on-the-job experience," Gorenc said. "But only the individual Airman can take those opportunities, make the most of them and continue to prepare themselves for future roles and to be ready to accept responsibility of the next level, whether in the officer corps or enlisted side. You have to grab all those opportunities with vigor."
As Airmen are presented with those opportunities, the general described the pride he felt in being a member of forward-based theaters like USAFE and AFAFRICA.
"For all the Airmen of USAFE, because we're forward and one hop closer to things that are significant and of value to our strategy in the United States, that just makes the demands of readiness even higher," he said. "That's a unique situation, and that's the value of being an Airman in Europe. You can go anywhere in the world and be called upon to execute your mission. And when you do execute that mission, you have to execute it at the highest level, because our partners and our country depend on their Air Force to deliver precise combat power from the air without question, without fail."
Regardless of the changes that may occur in the future, both leaders stated how the Air Force's core principles and Airmen will continue to endure.
"We're still the world's greatest Air Force," Davis said. "We have to keep that in mind, regardless of what's going on and what lies ahead. We're still the greatest. Don't ever forget that."