CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, and Chief Master Sgt. Greg Smith, AFSOC command chief, visited Cannon and its nearby communities in eastern New Mexico Apr. 11, 2019.
During the two-day visit, both leaders met with community leaders, visited multiple units and congratulated the newest class of chief master sergeants at Cannon.
“When it comes to resiliency, it becomes a conversation we have to have at the leadership level,” Webb said. “From the headquarters to the wings, groups, squadrons and frontline supervisors, you have to be able to unplug from your work. It has to be fundamental. Leadership will generally want to keep the throttle up to get the mission done.”
Webb and Smith met with civic leaders and congratulated them on being recognized by the Great American Defense Communities program. According to their website, the program was created with help from the House and Senate Defense Communities Caucuses to celebrate towns who improve and provide exceptional commitment to servicemembers, veterans and their families.
The next day, both leaders attended the 27th Special Operations Maintenance Group’s quarterly weapon load crew competition, the 27th Special Operations Medical Group clinic and the 26th Special Tactics Squadron to meet with Air Commandos.
“The national defense strategy is really focused on how we increase readiness and lethality to get after today’s challenges for America,” Webb said. “The real challenge for us is how we continue to be primary in fighting a counterterrorist organization and be ready for the ‘great powers competition.’”
According to Webb, the process being used to enhance readiness across Cannon is called “force optimization.”
“We go weapon system by weapon system, unit by unit on how we balance staying primary in what our nations needs us to do and prepare for the future,” Webb said. “We monitor our deployment and personnel tempo. It’s a challenge, because we as special operators genetically don’t have it in us to say ‘no.’ We thoroughly love our jobs and want to be a part of the mission. However, we have to recognize that sometimes we just need some white space to be ready for the challenges down the road.”
Finally, the pair attended the Chief Induction Ceremony later that night to congratulate the newest members of the highest enlisted grade. The ceremony recognized the critical responsibilities and importance of the rank, and with the help of Smith, shined a spotlight on enlisted force development changes. Some of these modifications include removal of NCO and SNCO correspondence courses as a factor for promotion or enlistment, the removal of weighted airmen promotion testing, and the exclusion of time-in-grade and time-in-service points in promotion cycles.
“Some of these changes release some pressure on the force so they can focus more on readiness,” Smith said. “We have enough data points along an Airman’s career to know where they’re at in their career, so the driving focus in promotion is performance.”
Cannon is currently made up of approximately 5,800 military and civilian personnel, and features one of nine units under AFSOC. Webb’s visit here marks his last time visiting as the AFSOC commander, as he prepares to relinquish command from his position this summer.
“I’m most proud of the Air Commando culture and spirit here,” Webb said. “Without a doubt, any mission that is asked of this command is going to be accomplished with absolute success. It starts with an attitude and a baseline of values that is inherited across Air Commandos. It manifests itself in understanding that if there’s a way, we can find it. It’s what I’ll particularly take away from my time in this command, and I want to ensure that it will continue.”