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PACAF commander visits Andersen, asserts importance of warfighting capability in Pacific

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  • By by Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Riedel

The Pacific Air Forces commander and command chief visited Airmen and families here Jan. 31-Feb. 1, to discuss current operations, share the commander’s vision and thank members of Team Andersen and local community leaders.

During their visit, Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy and Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Johnson encouraged Andersen Airmen to take pride in their role as forward-deployed Airmen who must be prepared to fight tonight, given the 36th Wing’s ongoing role in projecting airpower and deterrence across the Indo-Asia-Pacific.

“The Pacific is a power projection theater and Team Andersen plays a critical role in power projection both for the United States Air Force as well as our joint force,” said Gen. O’Shaughnessy. “We’ve seen this demonstrated during various joint support exercises, international engagements like COPE NORTH and several high-visibility bomber missions throughout the region.”

In the past two months alone, Andersen has executed several high-visibility operations, including approximately 15 integrated B-1B Lancer and B-52 Stratofortress bomber missions near Australia and the South China Sea.

Additionally, three B-2 Spirits concluded a three-week deployment to Andersen AFB, where they conducted joint, integrated operations with various U.S. military units and long-range training with Australian partners. The missions demonstrated the ability to rapidly project American airpower across the vast distances of this region in concert with partners and allies.

The general and command chief’s visit kicked off with a stop at the Pacific Regional Training Center complex at Northwest Field, which is home to the 36th Contingency Response Group’s 554th RED HORSE Squadron, 644th Combat Communication Squadron and others. The center’s two schoolhouses, Commando Warrior and Silver Flag, are now graduating more than 1,500 students in a variety of contingency-oriented fields, from airbase opening to expeditionary defense.

“Squadrons like the ones here at Andersen are the foundation of how the Air Force accomplishes its missions,” O’Shaughnessy said. “Revitalizing our squadrons is a top priority for Air Force leaders and as such, we will work to empower you with the resources and time necessary to get the mission done in support of our very vital joint mission.”

At the U.S. Army’s Terminal High Altitude Air Defense site, O’Shaughnessy met with deployed Soldiers who operate the ballistic missile defense system and discussed defense capabilities. The general noted effective teamwork between joint partners remains essential to ensuring the defense of U.S. territory and our allies and partners.

“Any successful crisis response in this region will likely hinge on an effective integrated air and missile defense capability,” said the general. “Thanks to our U.S. Army brethren who operate the THAAD, we are well postured to protect Guam, ensure air superiority over any adversary, and preserve our ability to project airpower throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific.”

With a focus on quality of life for Andersen Airmen, families and personnel deployed to the base, the general and chief toured housing areas and community spaces such as the medical clinic, dining facility, fitness center and deployment lodging, as well as seeing firsthand the construction of training centers and a ground-up renewal of base housing. During several meetings with Airmen and families, O’Shaughnessy and Johnson received feedback and listened to concerns of service members and spouses.

Additionally, O’Shaughnessy and Johnson took time to meet with local community leaders to thank them for their support to Andersen’s Airmen and mission.

“I can't emphasize enough how privileged I am to have the opportunity to lead great Airmen like those who serve here at Andersen,” O’Shaughnessy said to local civic leaders in attendance. “Their ability to accomplish the 36th Wing’s mission hinges on the awesome support they receive from the local community and leaders like you,” he added.

The visit culminated in a base all-call that allowed O’Shaughnessy and Johnson to address Andersen Airmen and field comments and questions in an open forum.

“Every Airman in PACAF is critical to the mission, whether you prepare food, load weapons, maintain or fly aircraft, or generate orders and work manpower issues; every Airman is vital,” said Chief Johnson. “When you see aircraft launching day and night; that is a testament to the hard work of every Airman in every specialty doing their part.”

The chief pointed out that despite the challenges ahead, the safety and well-being of Airmen will remain the command’s priority. In order to protect one another, he asked Airmen to foster a culture of dignity and respect in work centers in order to produce a resilient, combat-ready force.

“To operate effectively, we need Airmen like you to be empowered, trained and equipped to meet mission requirements,” Johnson said. “I’ve been impressed with the Airmen I’ve had the opportunity to meet here. This is one of our greatest strengths as a service and one that we will continue to leverage in the future.”

While articulating the command’s priorities and focus for 2017, O’Shaughnessy highlighted how Guam will maintain its role in ensuring airpower resiliency in the region, noting that the region continues to experience a dynamic shift which demands increased vigilance and readiness.

“We need to look at things differently than we did 10 years ago.” O’Shaughnessy said. “We cannot rely on strategic indications and warnings that we might have had years ago, so we need each Airmen to be ready to deliver combat power with very little notice. I think the Airmen of Andersen are going to be a key part of our changing strategy in the pacific.”

As the general wrapped up the all-call, he lauded Team Andersen for its continued commitment to projecting airpower in the region.

“I want to say thank you to your commitment thank you for your dedication to this profession,” he said. “I know that sometimes the challenges put here are immense but I know this team, this team in particular, is always going to prevail.”

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