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22nd Air Force Commander and Command Chief visit YARS

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Grossi and Staff Sgt. Christina Russo
  • 910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Maj. Gen. Bret Larson, 22nd Air Force commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Chin Cox, 22nd Air Force command chief, visited Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, during a Unit Training Assembly, March 4-7, 2022. Youngstown ARS’s 910th Airlift Wing is one of 14 wings that report to 22nd Air Force, in charge of maintaining mission-ready Reserve Citizen Airmen whenever and wherever they are needed.

With the intent of gauging the morale and effectiveness of the 910th AW, the general and the command chief planned on not only seeing the 910th’s mission, aircraft and equipment but visiting the Airmen of YARS to discuss how their roles affect the big picture. They also wanted to communicate the four goals of the 22nd Air Force: Readiness, communication, processes that work and the development of Airmen.

“We hope to communicate the 22nd Air Force’s and Air Force Reserve Command’s goals and objectives and to answer any questions the Airmen have about why we are doing things at AFRC and what they can expect from the future,” said Larson. “Chief Cox and I try to get out to all of the units at least once a year. My goal is to make you want to be here. My goal is to not break trust with the Airmen. I hope the 910th will receive a better understanding of how important they are to the Air Force Reserve and their country. We want to thank them for their continued service and hope they would better understand why we make the decisions we make at headquarters and what to expect from 22nd Air Force over the next two years.” 

Larson and Cox took the opportunity to meet with personnel from approximately 14 unique functional areas across the wing to better understand their specific missions. The team prompted Airmen to voice their concerns and ask any questions in a face-to-face conversation. Airmen representing the 910th Maintenance Group specifically asked about the upcoming budget and current needs for manpower and training. They also pointed out restrictive processes that impede the 910th’s mission.

Master Sgt. James Phillis, a 910th AW aircraft metals technology craftsman, demonstrated the power behind the technology of additive manufacturing—3-D printing—for Larson and Cox. Revealing that although YARS has the knowledge, skills and abilities to recreate its own non-critical replacement parts for the C-130H Hercules aircraft at a reduced cost, certain guidelines prevent them from doing so and may need to be reevaluated.

“We have to have smarter processes,” said Larson. “It’s the bureaucracy that we have to get past. We need to break through that. As commander, I work for the Airmen of the 22nd Air Force. I have 12,000 bosses, and that is all of you. It’s my job to make sure you have the tools, motivation and training you need to perform. If they don’t have those things, I’m not doing my job. It is important to maintain our readiness because we don’t know when our nation will need us to defend her.”

The general acknowledged that training and practicing for real-world scenarios in real-world environments is increasingly becoming a necessity.

“We need to be Airmen capable of going into a location and operating for a couple weeks and then getting out,” said Larson. “If we’re not ready to go up for the big fight then we need to do our homework.”

Larson and Cox were united in urging Airmen to aggressively pursue opportunities that come their way. For young Airmen, it could be something as simple as a secondary duty or signing up for Professional Military Education.

“Say ‘Yes’ to every opportunity,” said Larson. “Don’t be afraid to fail. In my experience, I’ve learned more from my failures than my successes. Don’t turn down an opportunity just because you don’t know how you size up. Just make sure you are doing your homework and solving your bosses’ problems.”

Cox echoed Larson’s sentiment, reassuring Reserve Citizen Airmen of the 910th to continue testing their limits.

“Don’t underestimate your ability to think,” said Cox. “Don’t self-eliminate (from promotion). You’ll never know how far you can go unless you take care of what is required of you and keep exploring new opportunities.”

As a former C-130 pilot, Larson takes to leading the 22nd Air Force from that perspective.

“That aircraft is multi-capable, and so we as Airmen need to be as well,” said Larson. “We as Reservists have a huge advantage. We’re capable of balancing civilian and military life. All of us are already multi-capable Airmen. That’s who we are. That’s what we do."

Although Larson and Cox departed from YARS the day after the UTA, they continued to keep the company of Youngstown’s Reserve Citizen Airmen by joining a C-130H flight to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, where the 910th Airlift Wing conducted an aerial spray mission over the Utah Test and Training Range. YARS has a unique capability in maintaining and operating the Department of Defense's only large area fixed-wing aerial spray capability for controlling disease-carrying insects, pest insects and undesirable vegetation and dispersing oil spills in large bodies of water. Missions may be executed in combat areas, on DoD installations or in response to disasters/emergencies as declared by the President of the United States.