JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
Former 433rd Airlift Wing commander and now Fourth Air Force commander Brig. Gen. Jeffrey T. Pennington returned for a visit and tour the 433rd AW Sept. 22 and 23 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.
One of the primary missions of the 433rd AW is to operate the C-5M Super Galaxy aircrew formal training unit. This unit trains Reserve and active duty aircrews. Air Mobility Command requested an increase in the number of C-5M pilots produced by the FTU. The general’s primary goal for this visit was to determine the FTU’s current capabilities and requirements to meet AMC’s request.
At the start of the two-day tour, Pennington met with the 433rd AW commander, Terry W. McClain, the command chief, Shana C. Cullum, and senior leaders from each of the wing’s groups for a commander’s update briefing. During this meeting, the wing’s leaders discussed unit achievements and support needed for the organization to continue to grow.
“Competing for fiscal resources in today’s environment is tough,” Pennington said. “If we are going to operate with the Reserve Command mission statement that General Scobee has endorsed for us, which is to produce combat-ready Airmen; And under the commander’s intent that General Brown just gave us, to accelerate change or lose, we need to continually evaluate how we do things, how we effective we are at them, and how we retain the Airmen we currently have.”
That afternoon, Pennington took the helm of one of the wing’s modernized C-5M aircraft to fly a local sortie.
On the second day, the general toured several buildings and continued to meet with wing personnel. The first stop was at the recently renovated building 910, where many Mission Support Group units are located. During this stop, Pennington met for a closed-door breakfast with minority members of the wing to discuss racial diversity and inclusion. The service members represented a variety of ranks and ethnic backgrounds from within the wing.
Following the breakfast, Pennington toured the Maintenance Group and met with several wing chief master sergeants to discuss enlisted concerns.
At many of the stops, Pennington and wing leadership recognized Alamo Wing members for their contributions.
“As we figure out how to mitigate risk and generate combat-ready Airmen and forces for whatever our nation calls us to do. It is great to see the Airmen behind the scenes that make that happen; that’s what you get in these unit visits," Pennington said. "It gives us a chance to recognize Airmen who have gone out of the way to figure out new ways of doing things, implementing virtual technology and virtual drill weekends. And responding and deploying members.
"That demand signal hasn’t stopped, whether it is deploying aeromedical evacuation teams early on to New York, or ongoing deployments going around the world going out on scheduled missions, that all keeps moving," the general added. "It is great to congratulate the folks who have worked hard and say thank you because, without their expertise and dedication, none of this would happen. It is great to get out and spend time with those heroes.”
Later, Pennington experienced a virtual reality demonstration at the 733rd Training Squadron. The unit is developing a VR training system that can be used by FTU students for familiarization training on the C-5M prior to hands-on training with the aircraft. This reduces wear on the aircraft and eases the burden on maintenance crews.
During his visit, Pennington said “I experienced the virtual reality training they are working on here for C-5 aircrew members. Aircraft are in high-demand. Generating them for training is expensive. Learning the different components of the aircraft, how they are operated, and getting familiar with their location and the basic mechanics in a virtual environment minimizes the demand on the planes for on-the-ground training.”
Finally, the general spoke about some of his priorities and key points.
“Leadership from my level, and up to the secretary of defense are so proud of how well all of DOD has responded when commanders were given the power to command. As the pandemic hit, localized commanders were dealing with different issues, mitigation strategies, and how to respond. Our leadership all the way up, has empowered them to make decisions and take care of their forces, in our case, Airmen. I’m extremely proud of how the leaders handled that responsibility and put Airmen first.”
Brig. Gen. Pennington was the 433rd AW commander from May 2012 to January 2014.