Lackland Air Force Base, Texas —
For the new commander of the 37th Training Wing, one of the greatest, most gratifying missions is training Airmen during wartime.
"This is not a short conflict we're in," said Brig. Gen. Darrell Jones, who assumed command of the 37th TRW from Brig. Gen. Mary Kay Hertog June 16. "All Airman, I believe, will wear [desert combat uniforms] sometime during their Air Force career - whether they're in for four years or 24 years. Therefore it's important that we remain focused on creating combat Airmen, through both basic and technical training."
However, the Mississippi native acknowledges that his responsibility to the largest training wing in the Air Force extends beyond the training of new recruits. It encompasses forging global alliances through the prudent use of organizations such as Lackland's Air Intelligence Agency, the Defense Language Institute English Language Center and the Inter-American Air Forces Academy.
"We will never do anything alone again, so we have to continue to foster good relations with other countries to build strong bonds," said the general while explaining his global concept, a principle that solidified for him during his most recent assignment, a two-year tour as the director of manpower and personnel at U.S. Central Command in MacDill AFB, Fla.
Although General Jones has been stationed in the San Antonio area before - he served at Randolph AFB in the early- to mid-80s - this is his first assignment at Lackland.
"My first impression of Lackland was breathtaking," said the general, who sports a classic gold wedding band on his left hand and his Mississippi State University class ring on his right hand. "The people are phenomenal and the change of command was overwhelming.
"I didn't have a 'normal' change of command. My family and I were welcomed in during a very historical time for Lackland. First there was the memorialization ceremony dedicating nine basic training buildings in honor of nine incredible enlisted Airmen. Then we celebrated the 60th year of basic military training becoming Lackland's primary mission. It was an amazing change of command."
General Jones' family includes his wife, Holly, and their two sons. One son is a senior in college. The other is a rising senior at a local high school.
The general said he looks forward to working with Team Lackland and doesn't have big changes planned.
"The systems already established were just recently validated by a successful [Operational Readiness Inspection] and the teams in place are doing a great job, so I don't know that we need to change a lot," said general, relaxing his 5-foot-10-inch frame into the leather executive chair.
His biggest concern, instead, is not getting to spend all of his time here.
"I know there will be times when my job will take me away from Lackland," said General Jones. "I'm not looking forward to that. I only get to do this job for two years and I want to spend every day of it here, with these sensational people who are dedicated to one of the greatest missions - creating combat Airmen to support the Global War on Terrorism."