By Staff Sgt. Jeremy McGuffin
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Sam Cox, 18th Air Force commander, visited Little Rock Air Force Base, Home of Combat Airlift, May 23-24 for the first time since taking command of Air Mobility Command’s only numbered air force in October.
The general visited the Walters Community Support Center and met with the supporting agencies that help Airmen and their families. He received an in-depth look at the programs aimed at keeping Team Little Rock resilient even as operations tempo remains high.
Cox received a detailed 19th Airlift Wing mission brief and visited key supporting elements which combine to ensure combat airlift succeeds. His tour included the 41st and 61st Airlift Squadrons where he had the opportunity to fly with the 61st AS in a C-130J.
During his visit with the 41st and 61st AS, Cox commented that the combat airlift capability begins with the formal training unit here, then builds all the way to the operational execution through the 19th AW and the employment of those assets.
Combat Airlift, while comprised of two flying squadrons, is effective through its supporting agencies who work together to support the operational units to ensure mission success.
At the All Call, Cox spoke to members of Team Little Rock on how the base exemplifies the total force concept through its partnership with both Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve components.
“I see Mobility Forces moving toward an increased and better reliance on the Total Force,” Cox said. “Our Active, guard, and Reserve partnership is going to be critical moving forward.”
Cox also offered insight as to what the future of the Air Force looks like. He emphasized that continuing to invest in the Air Force’s capabilities and readiness are essential to ensuring that the Air Force maintains global range, speed and strategic agility.
“While we won’t see growth at all in terms of weapons systems, what we’ll be able to do is fill in where some of those personnel gaps,” the general said. “We made some of the force shaping decisions based on a force size that’s different than we have today in terms of force structure. So now that we are there in structure, it’s about refilling the holes in manpower.”
Although the Air Force now boasts a smaller footprint, the newer technologies and platforms coming online mean infrastructure requirements are decreasing. The Air Force is continuing to “Right the Force” in terms of size, capacity, readiness as well as present and future capabilities. Cox emphasized the importance of thinking outside the box and finding creative solutions to not only today’s problems but those of the future.
“We have that innovative spirit,” said Cox. “It’s that ‘over not through’ mentality that creates a different way of attacking problems.””
As Cox wrapped up his tour of Little Rock AFB he commented not only on the hard work and excellence of the Airmen but the total force concept being implemented and the teamwork demonstrated daily. He had one final message for Team Little Rock
“Continue to be the best at your job,” Cox said. “Strive to be the best and have a positive attitude because you are important people performing an important mission.”