19th AF command chief talks readiness at Columbus AFB
By Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb, 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 18, 2019
COLUMBUS AIR FORCE, Miss. --
Nineteenth Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Erik Thomson held an all call for the enlisted force between visiting many units of the 14th Flying Training Wing April 8, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi.
At the end of his visit, Thomson spoke with and coined Airmen who have performed above and beyond, inside and outside of, their daily duties.
From the Spark Cell to the Honor Guard; from a lunch with select Airmen and NCO’s to the air traffic control building, Thomson saw the many units contributing their skillsets to help the 14th FTW create pilots.
“It was awesome to speak with so many incredible Airmen,” Thomson said. This visit was the first time he’d been to Columbus AFB and he said he was glad to have the opportunity.
Thompson said the all call and lunch were, in his eyes, a crucial piece of his visit. He noted the ability to answer questions and speak to the Airmen he leads is an important part of leadership.
“The 19th Air Force is in charge of all aviation training for the Air Force,” Thomson said. “The 19th Air Force is made of 17 wings. There are 34,000 people in the 19th Air Force. I tell you that to let you know you are part of a giant team.”
He continued, explaining why he was visiting and why it’s important the 14th FTW Airmen can have a dialogue with him about the changes occurring across the Air Force and what the future holds.
“The 19th Air Force and Air Education and Training Command have been taking a fresher approach on training today’s Air Force,” Thomson said. “Now why are we doing this?”
Readiness, he said. The focus is shifting to train warfighters, to train our Airmen to better protect our nation against all threats. Thomson noted the fact we train the same we did 20 years ago is inefficient in today’s generation of warfare.
He hit topics such as innovation and its connection to the increase of pilot production. He spoke about cyberwarfare and the impact electronic security has on the mission. He addressed the increase of Airmen to graduate from Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, next year and the impact it will bring to the 14th FTW.
Thomson also talked about the importance of the 14th FTW’s mission down range, from the security forces Airmen to the 14th Communications Squadron Airmen who are deployed at this moment.
“What you guys do every day is critical to our national security,” Thomson said. “I don’t only mean the ‘making pilots’ part, I mean the ‘developing and strengthening each other’ part. This wing like every other AETC wing is carrying their weight in deployments and I appreciate that too. I appreciate that you all chose to be Airmen.”
Finally, he reminded the Airmen in the crowd to take calculated risks, to think outside the box and help make things better at every level.
Thomson then held a question and answer style discussion. He asked what the Airmen’s perspectives were and requested they ask anything they wanted so he could understand the 14th FTW’s enlisted force point of view.
The Airmen’s discussions included talks about why warrant officers aren’t in the Air Force, how cyberspace and space are essential in today’s Air Force, and the possibility of physical training standards changing in the future.
“We as Airmen need to do everything we can to take care of ourselves and our subordinates,” Thomson said. “We also need to make sure we ask these kinds of questions when we are not having success with one or both of those missions.”
After the all call he pulled out a list of Airmen who were hand-picked by 14th FTW leadership to be recognized. He met with each one, learned about their accomplishments set them apart from the rest and coined them.
“It’s important to recognize those who are doing outstanding work,” Thomson said. “I’m thankful to have the opportunity to work with individuals like the ones I’ve seen here today.”