12th Air Force commander visits Offutt
By , 55th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 13, 2014
OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- The 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) commander made his first official visit to base on Jan. 8 - 9.
U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Tod D. Wolters, 12th AF (AFSOUTH) commander, met with Airmen, toured aircraft, received multiple briefings about the inner workings of the 55th Wing, and held an all-call over a whirlwind 24-hour period.
"Your wing is so successful and has achieved more than anyone over the past 25 years," he said. "I remember like it was just yesterday when Desert Shield and Desert Storm started, and amazingly, you haven't left yet."
As the 12th AF (AFSOUTH) commander, Wolters ensures the readiness of 10 active duty wings and one direct reporting unit for contingency operations, and oversees 17 gained Air Reserve Component units totaling more than 800 aircraft and 65,000 Airmen.
In addition, Wolters is also responsible for the air and space component to U.S. Southern Command, which operates throughout 31 nations within Latin America and the Caribbean.
The three-star general took command of 12th AF in September after serving as the legislative liaison director for the secretary of the Air Force at the Pentagon. He said when he took command and started putting together his travel schedule, he purposely elected to visit Offutt last.
"It's a real tribute to you that I'm coming to visit you last," Wolters said. "I'm coming to you last because when I looked at your latest inspection results, climate survey feedback and leadership, I knew this was a wing that does it right."
During his visit, Wolters visited the 97th Intelligence Squadron, received tours of an RC-135V/W Rivet Joint and a RC-135S Cobra Ball, and ate breakfast with Airmen, hearing first-hand about their concerns and interests.
He also toured The Connection, a place of fellowship and volunteerism within the base dorms, and received a driving tour of the installation, which included the historic General's Row and Martin Bomber Building.
"We're thankful Gen. Wolters took the time to come visit us and learn more about our mission and talk with our Airmen," said U.S. Air Force Col. Gregory Guillot, 55th Wing commander. "We appreciate his leadership and guidance and hope we provided him with insight about how our wing flies, fights and wins."
During his all-call, Wolters broke down his operating style into three categories: trust, training and teamwork.
"What I care about most is the fact that our Air Force exists to fight and win America's wars. If we do not focus on our operating environment, we'll die," he said. "We need to take care of our people and create an environment of respect."
He also spoke about sexual assault and suicide and how Air Force leadership is working hard towards changing its culture.
"We're all going to have to work to get over this if we ever want to be really, really great as the U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense," Wolters said. "If 100 percent of us aren't willing to be part of the solution, then we're part of the problem."
Wolters concluded his all-call by talking about the importance of taking care of Airmen. He told a story about how Air Force Master Sgt. Martin Gonzalez, who was killed in 2013 along with three others when the plane they were on crashed in Colombia while tracking drug smugglers, as an example of the Air Force taking care of its people.
The commander said the U.S. Air Force has put forth a huge effort since the incident on a thorough investigation, safety review as well as support to Gonzalez's family ensuring their every need has been taken care of.
"We will never, ever leave a fellow Airman behind and we will never leave their family behind," Wolters said. "We've been doing this since 1947 and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force has rededicated us to continuing that."
The Fightin' Fifty-Fifth is just one of the ten wings Wolters oversees and he said he will walk away impressed by the overall breadth and depth of the wing's mission as well as their people.
"What an incredible mission you have -- it is so crucial," Wolters said. "What you do has strategic ramifications, and I thank you for your dedication and sacrifice."