COMUSAFE 501st CSW visit
RAF MOLESWORTH, United Kingdom -- Timothy Hershberger (left), 420th Air Base Squadron site director, explains to Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander, and Chief Master Sgt. David Williamson, USAFE command chief, Royal Air Force Fairford’s capabilities to host global strike operations during a briefing, here, Jan. 20. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. John Barton)
USAFE command team visits 501 CSW

by Capt. Brian Maguire
501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs

1/24/2012 - RAF ALCONBURY, United Kingdom  -- The U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander and command chief visited Royal Air Force Alconbury and Royal Air Force Molesworth, Jan. 20, to receive an update on the mission of the 501st Combat Support Wing.

Airmen from across the wing briefed Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and Chief Master Sgt. David Williamson on different aspects of the 501st CSW mission portfolio, to include medical, support, security, communications and global strike operations that occurred in 2011.

Following the displays of combat support provided by the three air base groups, Welsh and Williamson conducted two commander's calls at the RAF Alconbury theater.

In an effort to frame the importance of USAFE and each Airman's role within USAFE, Welsh spoke about the purpose of having U.S. forces in Europe.

"The intent of forward-based forces is to provide options to the president of the United States to respond to contingency situations," the General said. "The most important thing to do is be ready."

Welsh also spoke about the impact that mission support functions have in regards to flying operations.

"For every sortie that's launched, using an F-16 for example since that's my background, there's about 100 people involved besides the pilot," he said. "Every part of the team is critically important - you can't pull any piece of it away and have the success we have today."

The general also focused on USAFE's enduring missions. At the top of the list is mobility access and throughput, followed by communications and logistics throughput.

"Contingency basing is another one - there's example after example from the past 30 years of how we've conducted contingency operations out of bases in our area of responsibility, so we have to continue to be able to do that," he said.

USAFE's enduring missions play into the broader framework of the strategy discussions that are currently occurring. The general said we'll all be learning together what the immediate future looks like when the Secretary of Defense releases information next month translating strategy to budget, but the general stressed the importance of continuing to improve processes and eliminating inefficiencies.

"We have to go through the logic of what is required and what isn't," Welsh said. All of us understand we're going to have to downsize in some way - we just have to make sure it's a way that makes sense and is not just a grab for dollars."

Welsh said that every Airman needs to be a serious contributor in finding innovations and methods of cost-savings in our missions. Airmen know how to make the mission work better, have the ideas and ability to change broken processes, and need to speak up and not be afraid to be good, he said.

"This Air Force is successful because of the people who are in it - they're phenomenal," Welsh said. "They're dedicated to what they do and take pride in what they do, and if every one of our Airmen remember that and follow that path we're going to be fine."

In closing, the general focused on the budget and force structure issues as important issues, but potentially distracting from accomplishing the mission.

"All this stuff that's around us right now, with discussions of budget cuts and downsizing, is not going to change the fact that we will be the best Air Force in the world in the future, just like we are today."