Airmen keep the 86th Airlift Wing 'flying'

  • Published
  • By Col. John T. Budd
  • 86th Operations Group commander
The 86th Airlift Wing will soon welcome its fourteenth and final C-130J. The transition from the venerable E-model to the new Super Hercules has been nothing short of phenomenal.

Those who fly, maintain, and support this tactical airlift capability didn't stand down, take an operational pause, or wait for the fleet to come back up to full strength. In unprecedented fashion, Airmen of this wing accomplished this transition "on the fly" while continuing our support to combatant commanders.

This new aircraft will enable our wing to carry more, to fly higher, further and faster, and to operate in and out of the most demanding, austere airfields and drop zones in the world as a precise and reliable joint partner in overseas contingency operations.

Our combatant commanders will also leverage this capability in multiple theaters as we continue to build partnership capacity in places as diverse as Morocco, Bulgaria, and South Africa...three examples of where we are currently operating.

As impressive as the capabilities of the new J-model are, they don't hold a candle to the Airmen of the 86th Airlift Wing. As General George Patton said, "wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men (and women)." New aircraft and an expanding mission have brought many changes, but the constant has been the professionalism and dedication of our Airmen.

Keeping the "Gateway to Europe" humming, while continuing to project combat power, world-class DV airlift, and life-saving aeromedical care is no small feat these days. As our mission grows, the diverse demands we place on our Airmen have grown accordingly.

Serving as Airmen here at Ramstein is something special. It takes smart, skilled, committed warriors who are experts at what they do and who are cross-culturally competent to engage effectively with allies and partners throughout Europe, Africa and Southwest Asia. Just knowing and doing your job is not enough here. We need wingmen, leaders and warriors who not only can "fly, fight, and win," but also possess the knowledge, skill and ability to teach others to do the same.

Each of us has been given a unique opportunity to serve in this strategic theater. It's been said that "to whom much is given...much is expected." Indeed, all of our senior leaders have great expectations for this incredible team. But, it's much more than the "new car smell" of our aircraft that excites me. It's the trust and confidence I have in each of you to make a difference for our Air Force and our nation.