SecAF visits Airmen at Pease

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Alec Vargus
  • 157th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James visited here to meet with Airmen and senior leaders of the New Hampshire Air National Guard, the 64th Air Refueling Squadron, as well as N.H. state representatives May 2.

During her trip James spoke with airmen about her key priorities as SecAF, which included discussing the future of the Air Force and specifically the concept of Total Force Integration.

TFI integrates the active duty and reserve components' operations, support and maintenance functions, leveraging the capabilities of both components for more effective and efficient operations.

The 157th Air Refueling Wing represents the Air National Guard at Pease, while the 64 ARS represents the active duty Air Force. The squadron has been integrated within Pease Air National Guard base since 2009.

"I'm a big believer in TFI, and Pease has been a model for total force integration," said James during an all-call. "TFI has given us a high aircraft utilization rate for contingency operations overseas, as well as for critical response to domestic emergencies like floods, ice storms, and Hurricane Katrina."

Lt. Col. Scot Heathman, 64 ARS commander, discussed what he believes are the critical elements for TFI success during a briefing with James.

"We've succeeded because leadership at all levels wants to define a new, more efficient model for our future Air Force," said Heathman. "Most importantly though, our success has come from developing lasting relationships that are grounded in trust. Trust is the required ingredient in our recipe for Total Force success."

James asked Heathman and the other members of the 64th to keep her apprised of the integration effort and to let her know how she can help.

The briefing was also an opportunity for New Hampshire Air National Guard leadership to highlight the capabilities of Pease Air National Guard Base before the Air Force makes the final selection of the KC-46 next generation refueling aircraft in July. Pease had been selected as the preferred alternative for basing the KC-46 in May of last year.

Col. Paul Hutchinson, 157th Air Refueling Wing commander, emphasized the base's ramp capacity which is the largest ANG ramp in the northeast, access to a deep water port and strategic location just 12 minutes from refueling routes to U.S. Central Command and U.S. Africa Command. That makes Pease 22 to 62 percent more efficient than other northeast units for refueling missions.

Expanding on the concept of efficiency, Hutchinson also spoke to the value of the full motion, three-axis flight simulator located at Pease.

"We are one of just four Air National Guard bases with a simulator. We fly the simulator around 2,000 hours a year, which results in around a 16 million dollar cost avoidance," said Hutchinson. "It costs around 1,500 dollars an hour to fly the simulator versus around 10,000 dollars an hour for our actual aircraft. It's also more environmentally friendly and safer."

During an all-call with airmen, James spoke about refocusing on the Air Force Core Values of integrity, service, and excellence and listed her priorities as SecAF. She explained that her priorities are taking care of airmen, balancing current and future mission needs, and making every dollar count.

In regards to the third priority, James provided some specific actions she has planned.

"The way I intend to bring leadership to the matter is to conduct regular program reviews and audits, bring down headquarters headcount and overhead by 20 percent, and reduce training that is no longer relevant to the current force," she said.

James asked airmen to look for other ways to innovate and increase efficiency.

"I'm asking all of you, and I ask everywhere I go, to bubble up ideas. Together we can free up time and money and invest that more intelligently," she continued.

She ended the all-call by thanking the audience members for their service, and sharing her vision of the Air Force operating in a difficult fiscal environment.

"What we are trying to do is to make tough choices, but make the right choices. It will be smaller, but it needs to be innovative, ready and a total force," said James. "If we get that right then we will have a great service for the country."